Disability laws don’t trump OSHA rules on required personal protective equipment (PPE).
That’s according to a new document from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If OSHA requires PPE for a certain type of work, and a person with a disability can’t wear the PPE, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t provide the worker with an exemption.
Is worker ‘qualified?’
Example: An OSHA regulation requires an employer’s workers to wear steel-toed boots.
An employee has severe burns on his feet and legs that prevent him from wearing steel-toed boots.
No accommodation is possible, so the employee asks for an exemption.
The ADA doesn’t prevent employers from complying with other federal laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Under these circumstances, the employer may insist that the employee wear steel-toed boots.
Because the employee can’t comply, he is considered “not qualified.”
At this point, the company should explore whether it can reassign him to another job as a reasonable accommodation. If that isn’t possible, the company can consider medical leave until he can wear the boots.
For more information, you can download The Americans with Disabilities Act: Applying Performance and Conduct Standards to Employees with Disabilities for free here.