10:39 PM Eastern - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Interesting Question On Workplace Protective Equipment #the-healthcare-law

This question came from Dennis of Randolph, Massachusetts. Men and women who work in industrial or factory settings might also have this same question, so we wanted to share it:

Does the healthcare law address who is responsible for purchasing or repairing hearing-aids and glasses if used on the job for safety?

The Affordable Care Act (the healthcare law) does not address this topic. In terms of healthcare coverage, the law really focuses on extending healthcare coverage and expanding affordable options for working families and individuals who simply cannot afford it now.

Healthcare insurance, whether through an employer or through the individual market, does not address hearing or protective eye care on the job. That really falls under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

I checked in with Mark Catlin who is an Industrial Hygienist with SEIU; he helps working women and men navigate these kinds of issues. Here's what he told us:

There are minimum requirements for employers set by OSHA regarding personal protective equipment. Eyeglasses might be included (unless also worn away from work) but hearing aids would likely not. This applies only if you are employed in a workplace covered by OSHA. In addition, employers can exceed the OSHA requirements, either through a union agreement or their own practice.

For more information on what's covered under OSHA at your workplace, I would recommend talking to your shop delegate or steward.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

Take Care,
L. Toni Lewis, MD

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