The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule in November on employer-paid personal protective equipment (PPE). Under the rule, all PPE, with a few exceptions, are to be provided at no cost to the employee. OSHA anticipates that this rule will have substantial safety benefits that will result in more than 21,000 fewer occupational injuries per year.

Exceptions to the rule include ordinary safety-toed footwear, ordinary prescription safety eyewear, logging boots and ordinary clothing and weather-related gear. The final rule also clarifies OSHA's requirements regarding payment for employee-owned PPE and replacement PPE. According to Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, the final rule addresses only the issue of who pays for PPE; it does not require employers to provide PPE where none has been required before. The new PPE payment requirements must be implemented by May 15, 2008.

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