Question: My employer states to me that because I need prescription glasses I must buy my own safety glasses (Z-87 prescription safety with corrective lenses). Their responsibility is for non-prescription only which they supply. What is the correct ruling and can you send me something I can forward to them, at present I cannot afford to buy prescription lenses. If they are correct please inform me of that too.
Answer: General Industry Safety Standard Part 33. Personal Protective Equipment, Employer’s and employee’s responsibilities: Rule 3310. (1) An employer shall provide to an employee, at no expense to the employee, the initial issue of the type of personal protective equipment which is suitable for the work to be performed as required by this standard or any other general industry safety standard, unless specifically indicated otherwise in this standard or any other general industry safety standard. The employer shall also provide replacement equipment if necessary due to wear and tear on the previous equipment or if the equipment is lost due to the work environment, unless covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
(2) An employee shall use all of the personal protective equipment provided by the employer.
Rule 3311. (1) All eye and face protection devices purchased after July 5,1994, shall be in compliance with occupational and educational eye and face protection of the American national standards institute standard Z87.1-1989 or the devices shall be demonstrated by the employer to be equally effective.
Based on your question the following answers are provided:
If the employer provides close fitting non-prescription (plano) safety glasses with side shields, and if the eye protection provided by the employer does not allow you to use your prescription lenses under the close fitting eye protection, the employer is required to provide non-prescription (plano) safety glasses with side shields which would fit over your prescription lenses to meet the requirements of the standard.
If the employer currently provides non-prescription (plano) safety glasses with side shields which fit over your prescription glasses, the employer has met the requirements of the standard to provide eye protection.
A best practice exceeds MIOSHA requirements. As a best practice the employer could pay for all or a portion of the cost of prescription safety glasses with side shields.