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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment PPE

What is personal protective equipment?

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE", is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.

What can be done to ensure proper use of personal protective equipment?

All personal protective equipment should be safely designed and constructed, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. It should fit comfortably, encouraging worker use. If the personal protective equipment does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed. When engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment to their workers and ensure its proper use. Employers are also required to train each worker required to use personal protective equipment to know:

  • When it is necessary
  • What kind is necessary
  • How to properly put it on, adjust, wear and take it off
  • The limitations of the equipment
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the equipment

If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.

Standards

Personal protective equipment is addressed in specific OSHA standards for general industry, maritime and construction. OSHA requires that many categories of personal protective equipment meet or be equivalent to standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This section highlights OSHA standards and documents related to personal protective equipment.

OSHA Standards

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
Related Information
Subpart G – Occupational Health and Environmental Control 1910.94, Ventilation
1910.95, Occupational noise exposure
Subpart H – Occupational Health and Environmental Control 1910.120, Hazardous waste operations and emergency response
1910 Subpart I – Personal Protective Equipment 1910.132, General requirements
1910.133, Eye and face protection
1910.134, Respiratory protection
1910.135, Head protection
1910.136, Foot protection
1910.137, Electrical protective equipment
1910.138, Hand protection
1910.140, Personal fall protection systems
 
Subpart J – General Environmental Controls 1910.146, Permit-required confined spaces
Subpart Q – Welding, Cutting, and Brazing 1910.252, General requirements
Subpart Z – Toxic and Hhazardous Substances  
Maritime (29 CFR 1915, 1917, 1918)
Related Information
1915 Subpart I – Personal Protective Equipment  
1917 Subpart E – Personal Protection  
     
1918 Subpart J – Personal Protective Equipment  
     

For information related to the construction, see the Personal Protective Equipment – Construction page.

Additional Federal Register notices

Note: The "Federal Register notices" bullets above link to notices related to each OSHA standard. The notices in this list provide additional information that is not necessarily connected to a specific OSHA standard highlighted on this Safety and Health Topics page.

Additional Directives

Note: The "Directives" bullets above link to directives related to each OSHA standard. The directives in this list provide additional information that is not necessarily connected to a specific OSHA standard highlighted on this Safety and Health Topics page.

Additional Letters of Interpretation

Note: The “Letters of interpretation” bullets above link to letters related to each OSHA standard. The letters in this list provide additional information that is not necessarily connected to a specific OSHA standard highlighted on this Safety and Health Topics page.

State Standards

There are twenty-eight OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.

 

Hazards and Solutions

The following references aid in recognizing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and provides information about proper PPE selection and usage.

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages
OSHA Publications and Fact Sheets on PPE
  • Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA Fact Sheet (Publication 3603), (2012). Also available in Portuguese and Spanish. This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards.
  • Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA Publication 3151, (2004). This guide was created by OSHA and is intended to help employers in complying with OSHA’s general PPE requirements.
  • Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209, (2005). Helps small business employers meet the legal requirements imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act), and achieve an in-compliance status before an OSHA inspection.
  • OSHA Technical Manual. OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (January 20, 1999). Section VIII of the OSHA Technical Manual describes the various types of clothing that are appropriate for use in chemical operations and provides recommendations in their selection and use.
OSHA eTools
PPE selection and managing workplace PPE programs
  • Personal Protective Equipment. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Contains links to PPE related topics such as eye protection, hearing protection, skin exposures and protective clothing.
  • Recommendations for Chemical Protective Clothing Database. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (February 1998). Provides chemical protective clothing guidelines for chemicals listed in the NIOSH pocket guide.
  • Personal Protective Technology Program. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (June 2017). Evaluates and improves equipment worn by workers and develops interventions to protect them from hazards.
  • National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Focuses expertise from many scientific disciplines to advance federal research on respirators and other personal protective technologies for workers. Also features links to PPE related topics.
  • Personal Protective Equipment Compliance Guide. The University of Alabama. Provides information to employers working toward compliance with certain provisions of Subpart I of 29 CFR 1910.
  • OSH Answers Fact Sheets: Designing an Effective PPE Program. Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). Gives an overview of designing a personal protective equipment (PPE) program.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM). Provides a number of resources for managing an effective PPE program.
PPE Training Materials and Training Resources
  • Assessment the Need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (PDF). OSHA. A guide created by the OSHA Training Institute intended to help readers to conduct PPE assessments, includes assessment checklists.
  • Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA. Includes a PPE PowerPoint presentation created by the OSHA Training Institute intended as an aid to authorized OSHA Outreach Instructors teaching PPE safety.
  • PPE Workshop Lesson Plan. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Applicable for hazardous waste worker and emergency response training. Exercise for reinforcing and enhancing worker's knowledge of PPE.
PPE in Agriculture
PPE for Emergency Responders
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Resources. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Addresses respirators, protective clothing, latex allergy and eye protection as they relate to emergency response settings.
  • Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG). U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Provides guidance for firefighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving a hazardous material. This guidebook was developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transport Canada, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico (SCT).
  • Guide for the Selection of Personal Protection Equipment for Emergency First Responders. Developed by the Office of Law Enforcement Standards at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Guide 102–06 (2nd Edition), (January 2007). Provides information on personal protection equipment (PPE) for consideration by emergency first responders when purchasing and using PPE, including duration of protection, dexterity/mobility, laundering, and use/reuse.
Additional PPE resources
  • Exemption for Religious Reason from Wearing Hard Hats. STD 01-06-005 [STD 1-6.5], (June 20, 1994). OSHA Instruction STD 1-6.5 dated June 20, 1994 states that OSHA has granted an exemption from citations to employers of employees who, for reasons of personal religious convictions, object to wearing hard hats in the workplace.
  • Laboratory Safety. Environmental Health and Safety at Stony Brook University.

Payment for Personal Protective Equipment

Many Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require employers to provide personal protective equipment, when it is necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. With few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment when it is used to comply with OSHA standards. These typically include: hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, safety glasses, welding helmets and goggles, face shields, chemical protective equipment and fall protection equipment.

Training Material
Directives
Federal Register Notices
  • Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment; Final Rule. Final Rules 72:64341-64430, (November 15, 2007). Stipulates that the employer must pay for required PPE, except in the limited cases specified in the standard. Safety-toe protective footwear and prescription safety glasses were excepted from the employer payment requirement, in large part because these items were considered to be very personal in nature and were often worn off the jobsite.

Construction

State Standards

There are twenty-eight OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) hazards are addressed in specific standards for the construction industry.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Register notices (rules and proposed rules), directives (instruction to OSHA staff), and letters of interpretation (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to PPE in the construction industry.

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

Federal Register Notices

  • Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment; Final Rule. Final Rules 72:64341-64430, (November 15, 2007). Stipulates that the employer must pay for required PPE, except in the limited cases specified in the standard. Safety-toe protective footwear and prescription safety glasses were excepted from the employer payment requirement, in large part because these items were considered to be very personal in nature and were often worn off the jobsite.

Directives

Letters of Interpretation

Hazards and Solutions
Additional Resources

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Training

  • Personal Protective Equipment Training Guide. Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley via Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (elcosh), (June 1994). Provides a training guide for PPE use in the construction industry.

Other Resources

  • Drilled Shaft Installation Safety Tips for the Employer and Employee. OSHA and the ADSC: International Association of Foundation Drilling (ADSC) Alliance. Describes general safety tips to help prevent injuries and illnesses in the drilled shaft foundation industry.
  • Working Safely During Installation of Drilled Shaft Foundations. OSHA and the ADSC: International Association of Foundation Drilling (ADSC) Alliance. Identifies hazards associated with the installation of drilled shaft foundations and safe work practices to help reduce or eliminate the risk of injuries or illnesses.

Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and Equipment

Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) To Be Used By Healthcare Workers



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