Following a series of court and review commission decisions regarding personal protective equipment (PPE), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued guidance on who must pay for each type of PPE.

The relevant document, Guidance for Personal Equipment in General Industry, took effect on Feb. 15, 2011, clarifying final regulations issued in 2007 and 2009. The prior guidance required employers in general industry, shipyard, longshoring, marine, and construction workplaces to provide most PPE to workers at no cost.

Changes in this directive include clarifying what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost to workers and when employers are required and not required to pay for PPE. The directive also provides guidance that allows employers to use PPE that complies with current consensus standards and updates PPE enforcement policies based on court and review commission decisions.

These personal protective equipment standards require employers to provide–at no cost to workers–protective equipment, such as goggles and face shields that fit properly without restricting vision; earplugs and earmuffs when they will reduce noise to acceptable levels and are less costly than administrative and engineering controls; and respirators to protect workers from exposure to air contaminants. Additionally, the directive lists PPE and other items exempted from the employer payment requirements and includes questions and answers useful in clarifying PPE payment concerns.

Employers, to ensure compliance with these standards, please refer to Personnel Concepts' PPE Compliance Kit.