Who Should Pay for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Employer or Worker?
In a perfect world, we’d be able to eliminate all workplace hazards. But in the real world, some hazards can only be reduced. That’s where PPE comes into play. PPE, such as hardhats, gloves, earplugs and glasses, protects workers from hazards that can’t be totally eliminated and which engineering controls can’t address. So who’s responsible for paying for PPE, the employer or the worker?
Unfortunately, the question of whether the employer’s duty to provide PPE includes the duty to pay for it is still unclear.
In Ontario, OHS laws don’t specifically address who pays for PPE. Generally, employers must ensure that workers wear and use PPE when required by law. In addition, the law typically require employers to provide all, or at least some kinds of PPE, under certain circumstances. Where the regulations require workers to use PPE, the law states that employers shall provide the PPE required. But does the word “provide” imply that employers must also pay for PPE? Or can employers charge workers for the PPE they provide?
OHS Law & PPE
The question of who pays for PPE often revolves around whether the employer has to “provide” that PPE. In a nutshell, if the employer has to provide the PPE, they generally must also pay for it. But if an employer is only required to ensure that workers use PPE, they don’t have to pay for the PPE. In unionized workplaces, employers and union will often cover who pays for PPE in collective agreements.