Work boots can be bought in different styles and special features. But when work boots are worn on the job to protect from abrasions, falling objects, chemical spills, or electric shock, should employees have to foot the bill? In recent years there has been heated controversy over who should buy safety shoes – the employee or employer?
Many employees point to the regulation issues by OSHA which states that employers must pay for all personal protective equipment (PPE) required for a particular job. Employers are also required to implement training on potential hazards, maintenance of the equipment, and how it should properly be used.
Employees soon demanded compensation not only for equipment, but also items (like work boots) they had personally purchased. After several complaints and lawsuits, employers called for OSHA to reevaluate their regulations. In 2008, the Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment; Final Rule – 72:64341-64430 was issued. Visit the OSHA Website to see the complete guidelines.
As a result of the new regulations, all PPE that is OSHA required must be paid for by the employer. Unfortunately, this excludes non-specialty, safety toe work boots, loggers, and work boots with built in metatarsal guards. They reasoned that these types of safety shoes are bought to fit one person and are often worn off the work site. Any type of more specialized safety work boots, such as non-slip soles and steal-toe rubber boots, still remain under the previous compensation regulations.
But there is still hope for those of you who wear work boots on the job! In their release of the new regulations OSHA encouraged employers to consider paying for ordinary work boots. If the job requires them, or it’s a matter of practical safety, employers will often implement a payment program that will cover a portion, if not all, of the cost of your boots!
If you’re not sure that your employer has a payment program, be sure to ask.But above all, it’s important to invest in your safety no matter who is paying for it! You only have two feet, so don’t skimp on work boots because of the cost. If taken care of properly, they can offer you years of protection.