In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by the team of industry experts at EHS Hero®, we look at a recent question from a subscriber asking whether employees can bring their own personal protective equipment (PPE) to work. See what the experts had to say.
Q: Can an employee bring into the workplace their own PPE such as an N95 or a dust mask?
In general, an employee may provide adequate PPE that he or she owns if the employer ensures its adequacy, including proper maintenance and sanitation of such equipment. The employer would not be required to reimburse the employee for that equipment. However, an employer must not require employees to pay for their own PPE unless the PPE is of a type listed in 29 CFR 1910.132(h)(2) through 1910.132(h)(5).
If an employee brings a respirator such as an N95 to the workplace and voluntarily uses it, however, the employer must determine that the respirator use will not in itself create a hazard. If the employer determines that voluntary respirator use is permissible, it must provide respirator users with the information contained in 29 CFR 1910.134, Appendix D Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard. In addition, the employer must establish and implement those elements of a written respiratory protection program necessary to ensure that any employee voluntarily using a respirator is medically able to use that respirator, and that the respirator is cleaned, stored, and maintained so that its use does not present a health hazard to the user. However, employers are not required to include employees in a written respiratory protection program if their only use of respirators involves the voluntary use of filtering facepieces, such as N95s.
Please note that if an employee is required to use an N95, the remaining requirements of OSHA’s respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134) will apply.
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