Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at

May 9, 1990

Mr. Benjamin Schneider 36 Crestmont Road West Orange, New Jersey 07052

Dear Mr. Schneider:

Your letter of March 3, addressed to the Office of Information of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), has been referred to my office for response. Please excuse the delay in responding.

You requested an interpretation of the OSHA standard covering personal protective equipment, particularly as it pertains to the question of who should pay for an employee's prescription lens safety glasses, the employer or the employee. This question has been raised several times since the inception of OSHA and it has normally been considered a labor/management relations matter, resolved through formal or informal negotiation between the affected parties.

Neither section 29 CFR 1910.132 nor .133 contains any statement regarding who will pay for safety protective equipment. However, OSHA conducted a recent hearing on proposals to revise existing OSHA standards covering personal protective equipment. One of the issues discussed at the hearing concerned who should bear the cost of safety equipment necessary to protect employees during work situations. We do not expect a formal resolution of this issue in the near future. Until the issue is resolved, we suggest that you continue your dialogue with your employer and emphasize the nature of the work you do and the necessity of wearing eye protection that does not distort your vision. It is important to note, however, that wearing goggles (meeting OSHA standards) over prescription eyewear does meet OSHA requirements.

I hope the above has been of some assistance to you, but should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Patricia K. Clark Director Designate Directorate of Compliance Programs