Subscribe to USGNN!

USGNN Original StoryOSHA Rule Requires Employers to Provide and Pay for PPE

Until recently, contract glaziers and other construction companies only had to provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) when deemed necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities-but employers weren't required to pay for it. However, now that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final ruling requiring employers to pay for the PPE, too, some companies may have to factor another cost increase into their budgets.

Prior to the OSHA ruling, employers were required to provide many types of PPE--hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, safety glasses, welding helmets and goggles, faceshields, chemical protective equipment, fall protection equipment, etc.-but there were no provisions requiring that the employer provide the items at no cost to the employee.

Under the new ruling, employers must pay for the PPE provided, with exceptions for specific items. Exempted items include, among others, non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (i.e. steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots); non-specialty prescription safety eyewear; and regular clothing (shirts, pants, shoes; work boots). The rule does not require employers to provide PPE where none was required before, but "merely stipulates that the employer must pay for required PPE, except in the limited cases specified in the standard," according to OSHA.

But not all glass companies will have to feel the added burden. Dennis Welch, vice president with Trainor Glass Co.'s Atlanta branch, says he expects they will feel no impact.

"We have always furnished all required PPE to employees as part of our ongoing commitment to safety," Welch says. "In my estimation, it would be very risky for an employer to place the burden of furnishing this equipment on employees due in large part to the OSHA-required inspection logs on 5-point harnesses, lanyards and certain other types of PPE equipment we use. The responsibility of maintaining OSHA compliance ultimately rests on the employer."

The situation is similar for Atascadero Glass Inc. in Atascadero, Calif.

"It has long been our practice to provide each new hire with a set of good quality PPE," says Roger Grant, Jr., president. "We typically issue, gloves, eye protection, ear protection, hard hats, lanyards, safety harnesses and dust masks."

Grant says they also replace any defective or worn out equipment as needed for two reasons.

"First, we want to ensure that our employee's have good quality safety equipment. Second, we want to ensure a program of continuing safety for our team members. We don't want an installer who is in a tight spot financially to postpone the replacement of critical equipment to his or her own detriment. I firmly believe that our people are our most valuable assets, and as a company we are deeply committed to their safety."

The OSHA ruling goes into effect February 13, 2008, with final implementation required by May 15, 2008.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.