OSHA - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

OSHA - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Course Description

This course provides guidance and OSHA requirements concerning the use of PPE, including various examples, as well as employer responsibilities. 

Accreditation Information: KLA Education Services LLC is accredited by the State of California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider # CEP16145.

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Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the course participant will be able to:

  • Describe the two primary means of protecting employees from workplace hazards prior to considering personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Explain what should be included in PPE training.
  • List PPE that may be used to protect the eye, face, head, feet, hands/arms, bodies and hearing.
  • Identify hazards that are lessened or eliminated by using the appropriate PPE for eye protection, hearing protection, foot and hand protection, face protection and body protection.

Course Content

Protecting Employees from Workplace Hazards

  • Employers must protect employees from workplace hazards such as machines, hazardous substances, and dangerous work procedures that can cause injury

  • Employers must:

    • Use all feasible engineering and work practice controls to eliminate and reduce hazards

    • Then use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) if these controls do not eliminate the hazards.

  • Remember, PPE is the last level of control!

  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA Instruction CPL 2.103, Field Inspection Reference Manual, Chapter IV, Section A ; 29 CFR 1910, Subpart I, Appendix B ; 1910.1000(e)

Payment for PPE

When PPE is required to protect employees, it must be provided by the employer at no cost to employees, except for specific items, such as:

  • Safety-toe footwear,

  • Prescription safety eyewear,

  • Everyday clothing and weather-related gear

  • Logging boots

  • Regulatory Reference: 1910.132(h) 72 FR 64341, Nov. 15, 2007

Engineering Controls

If the machine or work environment can be physically changed to prevent employee exposure to the potential hazard... Then the hazard can be eliminated with an engineering control.


  • Initial design specifications

  • Substitute less harmful material

  • Change process

  • Enclose process

  • Isolate process

  • Ventilation

Work Practice Controls

If employees can be removed from exposure to the potential hazard by changing the way they do their jobs... Then the hazard can be eliminated with a work practice control.


  • Use of wet methods to suppress dust

  • Personal hygiene

  • Housekeeping and maintenance

  • Job rotation of workers

    • Note: Job rotation of workers only reduces exposure – it does not eliminate the hazard.

Machine Shop Example:

A milling operation produces large quantities of metal chips that fly all over the surrounding work areas. Recognizing that flying metal chips were a potential hazard to employees in the surrounding areas, the machine shop owner had to decide how best to protect the workers.

Option 1—Engineering and work practice controls:

Engineering control - Enclose the milling operation or install a deflector to contain the metal chips and prevent them from flying into the surrounding areas.

Work practice control - Operate the machine only at certain times of the day when adjacent operations have stopped.

Option 2—PPE:

Provide employees with safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields.

  • Option 1 is more effective since enclosing the operation will eliminate the hazard of flying metal chips. Providing a deflector will contain most, if not all, of the flying chips. In a machine shop, however, safety glasses should also be required for added protection.

Examples of PPE

  • Eye - safety glasses, goggles

  • Face - face shields

  • Head - hard hats

  • Feet - safety shoes

  • Hands and arms - gloves

  • Bodies - vests

  • Hearing - earplugs, earmuffs

NOTE: Respirators and electrical protective equipment (gloves, sleeves, blankets, etc.) are also considered PPE. However, because OSHA has specific requirements for them, they are not discussed here.

Establishing a PPE Program

  • Sets out procedures for selecting, providing and using PPE as part of an employer’s routine operation

  • First -- assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of PPE

  • Once the proper PPE has been selected, the employer must provide training to each employee who is required to use PPE

  • Regulatory Reference: 1910.132(d)

NOTE: If all feasible engineering and work practice controls are in place, but employees are still exposed to potential hazards, PPE must be provided. See Checklist B in OSHA Publication 3151, Assessing the Need for PPE, A Guide for Small Business Employers, to assess the need for PPE.


Employees required to use PPE must be trained to know at least the following:

  • When PPE is necessary

  • What type of PPE is necessary

  • How to properly put on, take off, adjust, and wear

  • Limitations of the PPE

  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal

  • Regulatory Reference: 1910.132(f)

NOTES: Each affected employee must demonstrate an understanding of the required training, and the ability to use PPE properly, before being allowed to perform work requiring the use of PPE. When the employee does not have the required skill and understanding, retraining is required. Written certification of completion of training is required.

Eye Protection

  • Employers must provide eye protection for employees whenever they are exposed to potential eye injuries during their work if engineering or work practice controls do not eliminate the risk of injury.
  • Eye and face PPE purchased after July 5, 1994 must comply with ANSI Z87.1-1989, American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection, and must be distinctly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer.
  • Regulatory Reference: 1910.133

Mask and eye protection. The nurse must wear gloves if there is any possibility of exposure to blood or body fluids or if he or she has a cut or nonintact skin. Other personal protective equipment (PPE) may also be needed. This nurse is wearing a protective gown over her regular clothing. (A) Goggles are put on after gown, gloves, and mask. (B) A mask with a solid eye shield.

Causes of Eye Injuries

  • Dust and other flying particles, such as metal shavings or sawdust

  • Molten metal that might splash

  • Acids and other caustic liquid chemicals that might splash

  • Blood and other potentially infectious body fluids that might splash, spray, or splatter

  • Intense light such as that created by welding and lasers

Safety Spectacles

  • Made with metal/plastic safety frames

  • Most operations require side shields

  • Used for moderate impact from particles produced by such jobs as carpentry, woodworking, grinding, and scaling


  • Protect eyes, eye sockets, and the facial area immediately surrounding the eyes from impact, dust, and splashes

  • Some goggles fit over corrective lenses

  • Corrective lenses include contacts and glasses.

Laser Safety Goggles

Protect eyes from intense concentrations of light produced by lasers.

Face Shields

  • Protect the face from nuisance dusts and potential splashes or sprays of hazardous liquids

  • Do not protect employees from impact hazards

Head Protection - Some Causes of Head Injuries

  • Falling objects

  • Bumping head against fixed objects, such as exposed pipes or beams

  • Contact with exposed electrical conductors

Classes of Hard Hats

Class G (formerly Class A)1

  • General service (e.g., mining, building construction, shipbuilding, lumbering, and manufacturing)

  • Good impact protection but limited voltage protection

Class E (formerly Class B)1

  • Electrical work

  • Protect against falling objects, high-voltage shock/burns

Class C

  • Designed for comfort, offer limited protection

  • Protects heads that may bump against fixed objects, but do not protect against falling objects or electrical shock

Regulatory Reference: ANSI Z89.1-1997

Other Information:

  • Hard hats require a hard outer shell and a shock-absorbing lining. The lining should incorporate a head band and straps that suspend the shell from 1 to 1-1/4 inches away from the user’s head to provide shock absorption during impact and ventilation during wear. Protective helmets purchased after July 5, 1994, must comply with ANSI Z89.1-1986, whereas those purchased before this date must meet the ANSI Z89.1-1969 standard. (ANSI Z89.1-1997 re-designated Class A to Class G and Class B to Class E.) Look at the inside of any protective helmet you are considering for your employees, and you should see a label showing the manufacturer’s name, the ANSI standard it meets, and its class. NOTE: Helmets must be worn as designed to be in compliance with ANSI standards. Do not wear helmets backwards.
  • Employers must make sure that hard hats continue to provide sufficient protection to employees by training employees in the proper use and maintenance of hard hats, including daily inspection.
  • Remove hard hats from service if the suspension system shows signs of deterioration or no longer holds the shell away from the employee’s head. Also make sure the brim or shell is not cracked, perforated or deformed or shows signs of exposure to heat, chemicals, or ultraviolet light.
  • Limit use of paints and stickers which can hide signs of deterioration in the hard hat shell. Paints, paint thinners, and some cleaning agents can weaken the shell of the hard hat and may eliminate electrical resistance.

Hearing Protection

Determining the need to provide hearing protection is complicated.

Employee exposure to excessive noise depends upon several factors:

  • How loud is the noise as measured in decibels (dBA)?
  • What is the duration of each employee’s exposure to noise?
  • Do employees move between separate work areas with different noise levels?
  • Is noise generated from one source or multiple sources?

Generally, the louder the noise, the shorter the exposure time before you must provide hearing protection.

See the OSHA technical link for Noise and Hearing Conservation and go to Section III, Chapter 5, “Noise Measurement,” at www.osha.gov.

Other regulatory reference: OSHA 1910.95

Examples of Hearing Protectors

Employers must implement feasible engineering controls and work practices before resorting to PPE such as earmuffs, earplugs, or canal caps.

If engineering and work practice controls do not lower employee noise exposure to acceptable levels, then employers must provide employees with appropriate PPE.

Regulatory Reference: 1910.95(b)(1)

Left to right: Earmuffs ; Ear Plugs ; Canal Caps

Foot Protection

Safety footwear must meet the minimum compression and impact performance standards and testing requirements established by ANSI Z41-1991, if purchased after July 5, 1994. Protective footwear purchased before that date must comply with ANSI Z41-1967. Also see OSHA 1910.136.

Some Causes of Foot Injuries

  • Heavy objects such as barrels or tools that might roll onto or fall on employees’ feet

  • Sharp objects such as nails or spikes that might pierce the soles or uppers of ordinary shoes

  • Molten metal that might splash on feet

  • Hot or wet surfaces

  • Slippery surfaces

Safety Shoes

  • Have impact-resistant toes and heat-resistant soles that protect against hot surfaces common in roofing, paving, and hot metal industries

  • Some have metal insoles to protect against puncture wounds

  • May be designed to be electrically conductive for use in explosive atmospheres, or nonconductive to protect from workplace electrical hazards

Conductive Shoes

Electrically conductive shoes protect against the buildup of static electricity. Essentially, these shoes ground the employees wearing them. Employees working in explosive and hazardous locations such as explosives manufacturing facilities or grain elevators must wear conductive shoes to reduce the risk of static electricity buildup on an employee’s body that could produce a spark and cause an explosion or fire. During training, employees must be instructed not to use foot powder or wear socks made of silk, wool, or nylon with conductive shoes. Foot powder insulates and retards the conductive ability of the shoes. Silk, wool, and nylon produce static electricity. Conductive shoes are not general-purpose shoes and must be removed upon completion of the tasks for which they are required. Employees exposed to electrical hazards must NEVER wear conductive shoes.

Electrical Hazard, Safety-Toe Shoes

Electrical hazard, safety-toe shoes are nonconductive and will prevent your employee’s feet from completing an electrical circuit to ground. They can protect employees against open circuits of up to 600 volts in dry conditions. These shoes should be used in conjunction with other insulating equipment and precautions to reduce or eliminate the potential for providing a path for hazardous electrical energy. NOTE: Nonconductive footwear must not be used in explosive or hazardous locations; in such locations, electrically conductive shoes are required.

Metatarsal Guards

A part of the shoes or strapped to the outside of shoes to protect the instep from impact and compression.

Hand Protection

Injuries to Guard Against:

  • Burns

  • Bruises

  • Abrasions

  • Cuts

  • Punctures

  • Fractures

  • Amputations

  • Chemical Exposures

Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.138

Some Causes of Bodily Injuries

  • Intense heat

  • Splashes of hot metals and other hot liquids

  • Impacts from tools, machinery, and materials

  • Cuts

  • Hazardous chemicals

  • Contact with potentially infectious materials, like blood

  • Radiation

Body Protection

Protective clothing comes in a variety of materials, each suited to particular hazards. Conduct your hazard assessment and identify potential sources of bodily injury. Install feasible engineering controls, and institute work practice controls to eliminate the hazards. If the possibility of bodily injury still exists, provide protective clothing constructed of material that will protect against the specific hazards in your workplace.

Different materials will protect against different chemical and physical hazards. When chemical or physical hazards are present, check with the clothing manufacturer to make sure that the material selected will provide protection from the specific chemical or physical hazards in your workplace.

Left to right: (Cooling Vest ; Sleeves and Apron)

Left to right: (Coveralls ; Full Body Suit)


Employers must implement a PPE program where they:

  • Assess the workplace for hazards

  • Use engineering and work practice controls to eliminate or reduce hazards before using PPE

  • Select and provide appropriate PPE at no cost* to employees to protect them from hazards that cannot be eliminated

  • Inform employees why the PPE is necessary and when it must be worn

  • Train employees how to use and care for their PPE and how to recognize deterioration and failure

  • Require employees to wear selected PPE in the workplace

  • Regulatory Reference: *See 72 FR 64341, Nov. 5, 2007 for exceptions

    • OSHA Publication 3151, Assessing the Need for Personal Protective Equipment: A Guide for Small Business Employers. It is available at OSHA’s home page (www.osha.gov), or for sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Course Evaluation

Please select the extent to the following was met. (Disagree..Agree)

1. Course met objectives?

(1) (5)

2. Applicability or usability of new information?

(1) (5)

3. Adequacy of the instructor's mastery of subject?

(1) (5)

4. Efficiency of course mechanics?

(1) (5)

Course Evaluation

Please select the extent to the following was met. (Disagree..Agree)

1. Course met objectives?

(1) (5)

2. Applicability or usability of new information?

(1) (5)

3. Adequacy of the instructor's mastery of subject?

(1) (5)

4. Efficiency of course mechanics?

(1) (5)

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