The OSHA PPE standards require you to protect workers from potential hazards in workplace operations. Personal protective equipment reduces employee exposure to hazards.
PPE is never the first choice when it comes to protecting employees from workplace hazards. However, in many cases, it's the only choice. OSHA's PPE regulations are found in 1910 Subpart I (1910.132-1910.140).
Match PPE Equipment to the Work Environment
Employers are required to perform a hazard assessment and equipment selection per 1910.132(d). If that assessment reveals that hazards are present, or likely to be present, the employer must:
- Select, and have employees use, the types of PPE that will protect the employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment;
- Communicate that information to each employee; and
- Select PPE that properly fits each employee.
The hazard assessment doesn't specifically apply to respiratory protection and electrical protective equipment, however it's still a good idea to include those in the hazard assessment.
Commonly Used Types of PPE
Many companies use one or more types of PPE. Be it something as simple as wearing a pair of leather work gloves, to as involved as wearing a respirator, eye protection, hearing protection, a hard hat, and work boots, PPE can be a lifesaver.
News & Articles
- OSHA issues guidance on use of cloth face coverings when working in hot, humid conditions 9/24/20
- Cal/OSHA issues updated respirator guidance for healthcare employers 8/20/20
- Gaiters getting a bad rap for COVID-19 protection? 8/14/20
- Study finds service industry workers have elevated risk of hearing loss 8/07/20
Topics — What You Need to Know
When should PPE be used?
PPE is to be used when other controls aren't sufficient to reduce workplace hazards. The order of this hierarchy of controls is listed below:
- Engineering controls/work practice controls
- Administrative controls
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
OSHA considers PPE the last line of defense in protecting employees from hazards. OSHA's PPE regulations are found in Subpart I (1910.132-1910.140).
Are employers required to pay for PPE?
Yes, OSHA requires — with few exceptions — employers to pay for PPE when it's used to comply with OSHA standards. This can include hard hats, gloves, safety shoes, safety glasses and goggles, face shields, welding helmets and goggles, chemical protective equipment and fall protection equipment.
Why is proper fitting PPE important?
You know you have to assess workplace hazards to identify the need for personal protective equipment (PPE), and you review various makes and models to select PPE that gives your employees the right type of protection for the job. However, there's another aspect to PPE selection that can be overlooked: proper fit and adequate comfort.
Only OSHA's respiratory protection standard mentions the word "comfort." OSHA states in Appendix B to Subpart I:
"Fitting the device. Careful consideration must be given to comfort and fit. PPE that fits poorly will not afford the necessary protection. Continued wearing of the device is more likely if it fits the wearer comfortably. Protective devices are generally available in a variety of sizes. Care should be taken to ensure that the right size is selected."
To sum it up, other OSHA guidance says:
"Employers should take the fit and comfort of PPE into consideration when selecting appropriate items for their workplace. PPE that fits well and is comfortable to wear will encourage employee use. Most protective devices are available in multiple sizes, and care should be taken to select the proper size for each employee. If several different types of PPE are worn together, make sure they are compatible. If PPE does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed. It may not provide the level of protection desired and may discourage employee use."
The effort you put into making sure everyone is suited up with PPE they can comfortably wear will pay off in improved morale, acceptance of the equipment, and increased safety.
Personal Protective Equipment Solutions
Protect your workers from potential workplace hazards and meet OSHA standards with our wide selection of personal protective equipment, including: hi-vis clothing, hard hats, gloves, safety glasses and goggles, face shields, hearing protection, and respiratory protection.
Shop SAFEGEAR™ PPE, our exclusive line of high-quality, affordable safety products. Custom imprinting is available on many items, including vests and jackets.
Keep workers visible in a variety of conditions with high visibility safety vests and reflective apparel.
Use gloves to improve grip and protect hands from harmful substances, cuts, burns, and temperature extremes.
Protect eyes from flying debris and other hazards with our wide selection of safety glasses.
Reduce the risk of head injuries with hard hats, bump caps, liners, balaclavas and hard hat accessories.
Protect employees working at heights with harnesses, lanyards, carabiners, and other fall protection accessories.
Use safety signs to indicate where and what types of PPE are required in your facility or jobsite.
Train employees on the types of PPE used in the workplace and how to choose and use them correctly.