Friday, June 1, 2018

Who Foots the Bill for Safety Shoes?

A question we often get asked in loss control is whether or not the employer needs to pay for some of the employee’s footwear.  The answer to this question is Yes in Minnesota.  This includes ALL employees regardless of full time or seasonal/temporary employment. Current interpretation of this requirement is that the employer is responsible for providing at least the minimum cost of PPE that is of a type necessary for the job being performed. If employees want more expensive PPE, the employer has the option to pay the entire cost or have the employee pay the difference between the minimum type necessary to provide the protection and the option the employee is selecting.  

Where there may be some confusion is with the differences in the Federal and Minnesota OSH Acts requirements pertaining to PPE. Federal rule states that where equipment is personal in nature and may be used by workers off the job, the matter of who pays for the PPE may be left to labor-management negotiations. Under the Federal rule, examples of PPE that is personal in nature and often used away from the worksite includes non-specialty safety glasses and safety shoes. However, shoes or outerwear subject to contamination by carcinogens or other toxic or hazardous substances which cannot be safely worn off-site must be paid for by the employer. This federal interpretation does not apply in Minnesota. Minnesota Statutes182.655 subd. 10(a) requires employers to pay for all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety shoes.

Since we’re talking about safety footwear, it’s also important to note they must meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) minimum compression and impact performance standards in ASTM F2413-17 (Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective (Safety) Toe Cap Footwear) or provide equivalent protection.  All ASTM approved footwear has a protective toe and offers impact and compression protection, but that doesn’t mean that the type and amount of protection is the same.  Safety footwear protects in different ways, so it is important to check the product’s labeling or consult the manufacturer to make sure the footwear will protect the user from the hazards they face.

By: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

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