Personal Protective Equipment & Liability

Ensuring a safe job site is essential.

For the first time in many years, OSHA has made significant changes in their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) requirements, and we urge you to take a look at this “Quick Glance Card” they have issued to make it easier to understand we have also created a checklist for a PPE audit.

When it comes to liability insurance for contractors in terms of PPE, it is vital that you have at all times a current liability policy for yourself and any and all employees.* As a contractor, you are responsible for maintaining all PPE requirements for yourself and any and all of your employees. Most people are aware of what PPE is—equipment designed to protect your head, eyes, body, extremities, and even lungs. It’s safe and smart to use, even if you’re only going to be onsite for a few minutes. The old adage “better safe than sorry” is never more true than here!

Your Certificate of Insurance should be kept with you at all times while on the job site, and should clearly state that your primary coverage is contractor liability. This certificate verifies that you hold active insurance coverage for workers’ compensation, employer (contractor) liability, general liability, and what the liability limits are. There is a lot of coverage offered, so be sure that your policy includes premises and operations, independent contractor, products, completed operations and contractual liability.

It’s important to understand that the Certificate of Coverage is simply that—a certificate stating you have coverage. It is neither indefinite nor a guarantee of coverage. Obviously, if premiums are not paid or coverage lapses, liability may then fall to the project owner. If this happens, what results is a huge legal sticky mess—and no contractor wants that! Not to mention a project owner.

So, the laws states PPE is necessary when high-risk work is being undertaken, and responsibility for supplying it is in the hands of the contractor, along with liability insurance as you are, in effect, self-employed. A freelancer. You employ yourself.

What are your obligations? In brief—please remember, this is not an all-inclusive list and we, along with OSHA’s guidelines, will help you make your way through all the jargon-filled twists and turns!

  • Performance of a complete and comprehensive survey and assessment of any and all workplace hazards
  • Identification of all required PPE and ensuring adequate quantity
  • Full training in the usage of PPE
  • Inspection and maintenance of the PPE, replacing when necessary
  • Record-keeping of any and all safety incidents
  • Remember—it is your responsibility to strictly enforce the wearing of and adherence to all PPE regulations, and to update your compliance program whenever circumstances may change

A few best practice tips for you as a contractor to achieve safety compliance and work without complications:

  • Make sure your PPE policy is in writing, and everyone can easily and quickly refer to it when necessary (a written policy is a requirement of OSHA).
  • Keep up-to-date with state and federal regulations that are specific to your industry (professional associations can help you with this, if you’re unsure about how to wade your way through all of those).
  • Enforcement, enforcement, and enforcement yet again! Hold everyone responsible, set the rules, and be ready and willing at all times to set the example. Remember, your employees (and yourself) are your responsibility.
  • Your PPE policy should follow all regulations set forth in any Material Safety Data Sheets—make sure these are at-hand and everything is in perfect sync.
  • Check you have the correct level of hard-hat protection for the job, as there are three classes of protection.
  • The proof is in the details! Check to make sure, just as with the hard-hats, that gloves and the like are adequate to the job hazard presented.
  • Record-keeping, record-keeping, and more record-keeping! Just like with enforcement, this needs to be stressed. Make sure everything is signed, every T is crossed and every I is dotted, for every inspection you perform.

So when it comes to your liability protection, PPE compliance is only one among many. Along with talking to your insurance provider, OSHA’s website is your go-to, and has some easy-to-understand information for contractors. Remember, in 2016 it was updated for the first time in nearly thirty years, so much has changed! We have also created a downloadable checklist for a PPE audit. Download it now.

We have what you need for your protection, so give us a call or send us a message!


* This information is not to be deemed legal advice on your insurance liability responsibilities, and legal counsel should be retained if you have questions. This information is for liability insurance requirement purposes regarding Personal Protective Equipment.

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