Is My Employer Allowed to Charge Me for Safety Equipment?
The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) holds employers responsible for maintaining a safe workplace, both legally and financially. Every employer has a responsibility to provide safety equipment and training so that workers are protected from injury and illness.
Should I Provide My Own Safety Gear?
Based on a 2008 OSHA ruling, employers must provide and pay for all required personal protective equipment (PPE). Even if the employee provides his own PPE, management is responsible for making sure the equipment is adequate to protect the worker from all known hazards.
The only exceptions are for extremely personal items that are worn off-site (i.e. prescription eyewear or steel-toe boots), or generic weather protection like sunglasses, sunscreen, parkas or winter coats. If an employee loses a piece of employer-issued PPE, they can be charged to replace it.
In Coolville, Ohio, two workers were climbing a 195-foot communication tower without adequate fall protection, a practice known as “free climbing.” Their employer, Morlan Enterprises, was inspected by OSHA and cited for nine safety violations totaling $52,500 in fines.
Eight serious safety violations involved safety equipment. The company failed to train employees on fall hazards at work sites or provide mandatory PPE. Even worse, workers were forced to pay for their own fall arrest harnesses and other protective equipment they needed to stay safe.
Falls kill and injure more construction workers than any other workplace hazard. PPE like shock-absorbing lanyards, hard hats and climbing cables can be the difference between life and death for workers, and forcing them to pay for it is nothing more than greed and negligence.
By charging employees to work safely, Morlan Enterprises proved that they valued money more than their employees’ health. Furthermore, they put every worker who could not afford the equipment at risk for injury or death needlessly, in an effort to increase their profits.
Every worker has the right to a hazard-free workplace. If your employer makes you pay for safety equipment, they are taking advantage of you and breaking the law.
At Larrimer & Larrimer, we fight for workers and their right to work safely. Call us today for a free consultation. Our experience with workers’ comp law could give you the strength you need to fight back.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys