Personal protective equipment: Who covers the cost?
By Joanna Weekes
Are there any activities that your workers perform that require them to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?
- Have you been supplying the PPE?
- Have your workers been purchasing the PPE themselves?
- Have you been supplementing the cost of the PPE or deducting it from their wage?
Do you know your responsibility when it comes to PPE?
Today we will go through what an employer’s responsibility is when it comes to providing clothing and equipment to their workers.
Who pays for the PPE?
As the controller of a workplace, it is your responsibility to provide personal protective equipment to your employees in order to protect their health and safety while they are carrying out work for you.
Under health and safety legislation, an employer cannot charge its workers, or deduct from their wages, the cost of the PPE that the workers are required to wear to reduce a health and safety risk.
Who should purchase the PPE?
Employers can provide an allowance to workers that covers the cost of the PPE rather than actually purchasing and providing it to workers. But if the worker purchases the PPE themselves, an employer is then responsible for ensuring that it meets the minimum standards required by health and safety legislation – this involves conducting checks and tests on the PPE.
What about uniforms and shoes?
Employers are not required to pay for the clothing that a worker wears to work if it is not considered PPE.
So if you are wondering how to determine whether something is consider PPE – think about whether the piece of clothing is worn to protect the worker in some way from a health and safety risk.
If the answer is yes – you are required to provide or pay for the clothing.
If the answer is no – you are not required to provide or pay for the clothing.
I hope that clears some things up when it comes to providing your workers with personal protective equipment!
Remember though, PPE is not always a suitable method of risk reduction and is not the preferred step to take when it comes to finding control measures for hazards that have been identified in your workplace. The next OH&S Handbook update (released in August) will include an updated version of Personal Protective Equipment which will explain all this and help you to determine when PPE is an appropriate measure to take.
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