Employers will be required to pay for virtually all personal protective equipment currently mandated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards under a final rule the agency published on Nov. 15. Companies already pay for approximately 95% of such equipment. OSHA says the rule will result in more than 21,000 fewer occupational injuries a year.

Dan Walter, National Electrical Contractors Association vice president and chief operating officer, says the new regulation changes the current practice of some companies that allow employees to pay for their own “tools of the trade,” such as voltage metal gloves. Walter says employers probably will shift the additional cost to owners.

OSHA will begin enforcing the rule on May 15, 2008.