OSHA Leaves 'Employer Pays' Intact

The Federal Register is thick with final rules and announcements from EPA, OSHA, FDA, and a host of other agencies that are clearing their books in the waning days of the Bush administration. Today, OSHA published one that may put to rest the protracted rulemaking known as "employer pays" because it spells out when the agency says employers must provide PPE and/or training to every individual employee.

The rulemaking stemmed from a major case OSHA lost before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission years ago. That decision vacated citations alleging an employer had not paid for required PPE; OSHRC ruled the standard at issue did not state employers had to pay for the PPE. So OSHA began working on a rule to spell out a per-employee duty for employers. Employer groups for the most part agreed with the rulemaking because they already were paying for as much as 95 percent of the PPE their workers were using. OSHA exempted some significant categories, including steel-toed footwear.

Today's rule revises the language of the initial paragraphs in OSHA's 1998 respiratory protection rule to explicitly state that employers must provide each employee an appropriate respirator and implement a respiratory protection program for each employee.

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