Are employers responsible for providing things like bug spray and sunscreen to workers working outdoors?
When the summer comes along, outdoor workers face a host of weather-related hazards – not the least of which is the sun and, in some instances, insects like mosquitoes. It’s critical that workers wear appropriate protection to manage these hazards, which includes sunscreen and bug spray.
Of course, OSHA regulations state that employers are responsible for taking the necessary safety measures to protect workers from all identified hazards in the workplace or on a job site. When engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls aren’t sufficient, that means providing PPE (find out Who Pays for Personal Protective Equipment).
While OSHA normally requires employers to cover the cost of the necessary PPE, there are some notable exceptions, including ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items used solely for protection from the weather, such as:
- Winter coats
- Rubber boots
- Ordinary sunglasses
The short answer, then, is no. Employers are not legally required to provide workers with items like sunscreen and insect repellent. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered.
In fact, 74 percent of American workers believe that employers should provide their workers with sun protection while on the job. In reality, however, only about 29 percent of workers say their employer does so.
If employers are serious about creating the safest work environment possible for their employees, they are advised to offer sun and insect protection. Having these items easily accessible at worksites increases the likelihood of employees using them and mitigates the risk of sun-related illnesses and injuries, which can keep employees away from work and have a serious impact on productivity and workplace morale.
The bottom line: providing sunscreen and insect repellent to workers may not be law, but it is best practice.
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