Personnel Safety, Q&A

Q&A: Providing Cold Weather Clothing

Recently, we received the following question from a subscriber:

We have employees that work in coolers (about 36 degrees F). Is the employer required to provide them with jackets and pants/bibs to work in this environment? We do provide other PPE such as boots, gloves, safety glasses, etc.

Here’s our answer:

Employers are not required to pay for everyday clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, street shoes, normal work boots, or other items used solely for protection from weather.

However, the employer is required to pay for clothing used to protect employees from artificial cold (e.g., employees working in a cooler who need heavy coats). The exposure to excessive cold is created by the work environment; therefore, OSHA requires the employer to pay for the PPE. There is not a specific regulatory citation to support the requirement, but OSHA has made this clarification in the preamble to the final rule:

OSHA also notes that clothing used in artificially controlled environments with extreme hot or cold temperatures, such as freezers, are not considered part of the weather gear exception.

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