The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a directive – Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry (pdf) – that provides enforcement personnel with instructions for determining whether employers have complied with the agency’s personal protective equipment (PPE) standards. This directive, effective as of February 10, 2011, takes into consideration recently revised PPE rules, and therefore supersedes the PPE Inspection Guidelines issued in June 1995. On November 15, 2007, the agency revised its standards on PPE regarding employer payment for required PPE. Generally, the rule requires employers to pay for the PPE used to comply with OSHA standards, with specific exceptions. On September 9, 2009, OSHA revised its standards regarding eye, face, head and foot protection. As discussed in the document’s executive summary, the new directive differs significantly from the former version in that it:
- Clarifies what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost, when employers must pay for PPE or for replacement PPE, and when employers are not required to pay for PPE.
- Clarifies the PPE payment requirements for PPE worn off the jobsite, for PPE that must remain at the jobsite, and for employee-owned PPE.
- Sets forth enforcement policies that reflect court and review commission decisions concerning PPE.
- Provides guidance that allows employers to use PPE constructed in accordance with the most recent national consensus standards and updates PPE enforcement policies based on court and review commission decisions.
Among other information, the directive sets forth a series of questions and answers regarding PPE payment, as well as includes a chart of all of OSHA’s standards that require PPE. In addition, the document’s Appendix A contains a linkable list of the agency’s interpretation letters – some more than 30 years old – that address various PPE issues.
Photo credit: Matt Collingwood