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Course 709 - Personal Protective Equipment

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

General Requirements

PPE Requirements
Cooperate to stay safe.

PPE Standard requirements provide mandatory rules to help employers provide the greatest possible protection for employees in the workplace. The cooperative efforts of both employers and employees will help in most effectively establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful work environment.


In general, employers are responsible for:

  • performing a "hazard assessment" of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards
  • identifying and providing appropriate PPE for employees
  • training employees in the use and care of the PPE
  • maintaining and replacing worn or damaged PPE
  • periodically reviewing, updating and evaluating the effectiveness of the PPE program


In general, employees should be:

  • properly wearing PPE
  • attending training sessions on PPE
  • caring for, cleaning and maintaining PPE
  • informing a supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE

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1. Who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining personal protective equipment?

a. Employees
b. The employer
c. Union representatives
d. Outside cleaners

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PPE Requirements
Know your PPE requirements.

PPE Requirements

OSHA standards require the use of PPE to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels. Employers are required to determine if PPE should be used to protect their workers and they must also make sure employees use and maintain PPE in a sanitary and reliable condition.

PPE Proper Use

Personal Protective Equipment must be worn and used in a manner that will make full use of its protective qualities.

Low rates of compliance in wearing PPE usually indicate the safety management system is failing in some way. Any one of the following root causes may result in general non-compliance:

  1. the employer does not provide quality PPE;
  2. the employer does not properly supervise the use of PPE;
  3. the employer fails to enforce the use of PPE; or
  4. the employer does not properly train employees on the use of PPE.

2. OSHA requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to _____.

a. reduce employee exposure to hazards
b. increase employee safety
c. reduce hazardous conditions
d. replace administrative controls

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PPE Categories

There are many different types of PPE needed. Here is a list:

  • Face and eye protection
  • Head protection
  • Foot protection
  • Hand protection
  • Protective clothing
  • Protective ointments
  • Shields
  • Barriers
  • Restraints

When and where is PPE required?

PPE is required wherever the conditions listed below are encountered that are capable of causing injury or impairment by being absorbed, inhaled, or physically contacted.

  • hazards of processes
  • environment hazards
  • chemical hazards
  • radiological hazards
  • mechanical irritants

3. What is required wherever hazardous conditions might cause injury or impairment by absorption, inhalation, or physical contact?

a. Training by OSHA
b. Personal Protective Equipment
c. Medical evaluations and approval
d. Written permission for entry

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Who Pays for PPE?

Man Inspecting Logs
The employer should pay for your required PPE.

With few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment used to comply with OSHA standards.

Employers cannot require workers to provide their own PPE and the worker’s use of PPE they already own must be completely voluntary. Even when a worker provides his or her own PPE, the employer must ensure that the equipment is adequate to protect the worker from hazards at the workplace.

Employers must pay for the following:

  • metatarsal foot protection
  • rubber boots with steel toes
  • non-prescription eye protection
  • prescription eyewear inserts/lenses for full face respirators
  • goggles and face shields
  • firefighting PPE (helmet, gloves, boots, proximity suits, full gear)
  • hard hats
  • hearing protection
  • welding PPE

Payment Exceptions under the OSHA Rule

Employers are not required to pay for some PPE in certain circumstances:

  • Non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the job site. (OSHA based this decision on the fact that this type of equipment is very personal, is often used outside the workplace, and that it is taken by workers from jobsite to jobsite and employer to employer.)
  • Everyday clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants, street shoes, and normal work boots.
  • Ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items, used solely for protection from weather, such as winter coats, jackets, gloves, parkas, rubber boots, hats, raincoats, ordinary sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Items such as hair nets and gloves worn by food workers for consumer safety.
  • Lifting belts because their value in protecting the back is questionable.
  • When the employee has lost or intentionally damaged the PPE and it must be replaced.

4. According to OSHA law, who is obligated to provide and to pay for required personal protective equipment?

a. The employee
b. The employer
c. The insurer
d. The government

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PPE Design

All personal protective equipment must be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed.

What should not be worn?

The PPE rules require that rings, wristwatches, earrings, bracelets, and other jewelry must not be worn if it's possible for it to come into contact with power driven machinery or electric circuitry.

Why this rule? Read how this rule might have prevented some serious injuries.

De-gloving of a finger caused by a ring. From Bob F.

The accident occurred when the individual was jumping off the side of an Army tow truck. He placed his hand on the railing of the bed and jumped off. The ring caught on the side of truck bed. Upon reaching the ground, the ring had removed all the skin from the finger, leaving the muscles, bone and fingernail exposed.

The individual was rushed to an emergency room where the finger was inserted into the wall of the stomach area. A pedicle graft was performed using the skin from the stomach area. After more than eight operations and over 100 plus days in the hospital the finger is semi-useable.

Nothing but air? NOT! From Joan R.

I took care of a man who got his ring caught on a basketball hoop as he made a dunk and pulled his whole finger off--skin, bone, and all at the knuckle. Not a pretty sight.

5. Jewelry must not be worn if it's possible for it to come into contact with _____.

a. any objects that may contact jewelry
b. power-driven machinery or electric circuitry
c. hazardous chemical substances
d. wood or metal materials

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Man Inspecting Logs
Do back belts really help?

Back Belts

It's important that you understand that back belts should not be considered personal protective equipment in that they physically "protect" you from back injuries.

Devices such as back belts are not recognized by OSHA as control measures to prevent back injury. While they may be accepted by individual workers because they feel as if they provide additional support, if used improperly, they may restrict the body's range of motion and possibly aggravate other ergonomic stressors in the job. Research indicates that the primary value in back belts, when used properly, is that they "remind" the employee to use proper lifting techniques. As a result, fewer back injuries occur. Thus, OSHA does not forbid the use of back belts and similar devices, nor does it endorse their use.

Work Clothing

Clothing must be worn which is appropriate to the work performed and conditions encountered. Loose sleeves, ties, lapels, cuffs, or other loose clothing must not be worn near moving machinery.

Make sure that you immediately remove clothing that becomes saturated or impregnated with flammable liquids, corrosive or toxic substances, irritants, or oxidizing agents. Don't wear it again until it's properly cleaned.

Defective and Damaged Equipment

Of course, defective or damaged personal protective equipment must not be used. It's important to inspect PPE regularly, and before each use, to make sure it's capable of adequately protecting an employee from exposure to hazards. Remember, PPE that is defective is not PPE.

6. Which of the following is TRUE regarding the use of back belts?

a. They give you the ability to lift heavier objects
b. Back belts help to strengthen muscle groups
c. They may be used for fall protection
d. OSHA does not recognize them as control measures

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Hazard Assessment

A first critical step in developing a comprehensive safety and health program is to identify physical and health hazards in the workplace. This process is known as a "hazard assessment." Potential hazards may be physical or health-related and a comprehensive hazard assessment should identify hazards in both categories. Examples of physical hazards include moving objects, fluctuating temperatures, high intensity lighting, rolling or pinching objects, electrical connections and sharp edges. Examples of health hazards include overexposure to harmful dusts, chemicals or radiation.

The hazard assessment should begin with a walk-through survey of the facility to develop a list of potential hazards in the basic hazard categories below.

  • Impact
  • Penetration
  • Compression (roll-over)
  • Chemical
  • Heat/cold
  • Harmful dust
  • Light (optical) radiation
  • Biological contaminants

In addition to noting the basic layout of the facility and reviewing any history of occupational illnesses or injuries, things to look for during the walk-through survey include:

  • sources of electricity;
  • sources of motion such as machines or processes where movement may exist that could result in an impact between personnel and equipment;
  • sources of high temperatures that could result in burns, eye injuries or fire;
  • types of chemicals used in the workplace;
  • sources of harmful dusts;
  • sources of light radiation, such as welding, brazing, cutting, furnaces, heat treating, high intensity lights, etc.;
  • the potential for falling or dropping objects;
  • sharp objects that could poke, cut, stab or puncture; and
  • biologic hazards such as blood or other potentially infectious material.

When the walk-through is complete, the employer should organize and analyze the data so that it may be efficiently used in determining the proper types of PPE required at the worksite. The employer should become aware of the different types of PPE available and the levels of protection offered. It is definitely a good idea to select PPE that will provide a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from hazards.

The workplace should periodically be reassessed for any changes in conditions, equipment or operating procedures that could affect occupational hazards. This periodic reassessment should also include a review of injury and illness records to spot any trends or areas of concern and taking appropriate corrective action. The suitability of existing PPE, including an evaluation of its condition and age, should be included in the reassessment.

7. Select PPE that will provide a level of protection _____ the minimum required to protect employees from hazards.

a. less than
b. equal to
c. greater than
d. similar to

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Hazard Assessment (continued)

Documentation of the hazard assessment is required through a written certification that includes the following information:

  • identification of the workplace evaluated;
  • name of the person conducting the assessment;
  • date of the assessment; and
  • identification of the document certifying completion of the hazard assessment.
Hazard Assessment
Sample PPE Assessment Form
(Click to enlarge)

Below is a sample PPE Assessment Form.

If the person conducting the hazard assessment discovers that hazards requiring PPE are present, or likely to be present, then management must:

  • select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazard identified in the hazard assessment;
  • communicate selection decisions to each affected employee; and,
  • select PPE that properly fits each affected employee.

8. Documentation of the hazard assessment is required through _____.

a. written certification
b. informal reports to the safety manager
c. phone calls to OSHA
d. safety committee reports

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PPE Selection - One size does not fit all.

All PPE clothing and equipment should be of safe design and construction, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. 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 of PPE. 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.

OSHA requires that many categories of PPE meet or be equivalent to standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI has been preparing safety standards since the 1920s, when the first safety standard was approved to protect the heads and eyes of industrial workers. Employers who need to provide PPE in the categories listed below must make certain that any new equipment procured meets the cited ANSI standard. Existing PPE stocks must meet the ANSI standard in effect at the time of its manufacture or provide protection equivalent to PPE manufactured to the ANSI criteria. Employers should inform employees who provide their own PPE of the employer's selection decisions and ensure that any employee-owned PPE used in the workplace conforms to the employer's criteria, based on the hazard assessment, OSHA requirements and ANSI standards. OSHA requires PPE to meet the ANSI standards listed below.

  • Eye and Face Protection: ANSI Z87.1
  • Head Protection: ANSI Z89.1
  • Foot Protection: ANSI Z41.1
  • Hand Protection: ANSI/ISEA 105-2016

9. OSHA requires that many categories of PPE meet or be equivalent to standards developed by _____.

a. the Institute for Safety and Health Management (ISHM)
b. the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
c. the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP)
d. the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

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Controlling Hazards

To control hazards, a hierarchy of controls has been used as a means of determining how to implement feasible and effective controls. ANSI Z10-2012, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, encourages employers to employ the hierarchy of hazard control strategies listed below.

  1. Elimination
  2. Substitution
  3. Engineering controls
  4. Warnings
  5. Administrative controls
  6. Personal protective equipment

The idea behind this hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of the list are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following the hierarchy normally leads to the implementation of inherently safer systems, ones where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced. Let's take a closer look at the hierarchy of control strategies.

Hazard Assessment
If you can eliminate a hazard, do it!

Elimination and Substitution. Elimination and substitution, while most effective at reducing hazards, also tend to be the most difficult to implement in an existing process. If the process is still at the design or development stage, elimination and substitution of hazards may be inexpensive and simple to implement. For an existing process, major changes in equipment and procedures may be required to eliminate or substitute for a hazard.

These strategies are considered first because they have the potential to completely eliminate the hazard, thus greatly reducing the probability of an accident. Redesigning or replacing equipment or machinery may be expensive, but remember that, according to the National Safety Council, the average direct and indirect cost of a lost work time injury is $34,000 and $1,115,000 to close a fatality claim.

Below are examples of these two strategies.

  • Removing the source of excessive temperatures, noise, or pressure
  • Substituting a toxic chemical with a less toxic or non-toxic chemical

Engineering Controls. Workplace hazards may be corrected using engineering controls which may be thought of as replacing or redesigning machinery, equipment, and tools, and/or substituting materials. When elimination or substitution is not possible, engineering controls are the "first line of defense" against injury/illness, because they also have the potential to completely eliminate a hazard. Elimination, substitution and engineering controls do not rely on human behavior to be effective. For instance, rather than requiring employees to wear respiratory protection which must be monitored, inspected, trained, managed, it's much more effective to install a ventilation system that does not require any of those management activities.

Warnings. Although ANSI gives this strategy its own category, OSHA considers warning signs and other devices as administrative controls. They help to protect only by warning employees about the need to use PPE.

Hazard Assessment

Administrative Controls. Administrative controls can be accomplished with the stroke of the pen. It involves changing or redesigning work procedures, rescheduling breaks, and changing the number of workers doing a job, to reduce the frequency and duration of exposure to hazards in the workplace.

Using administrative controls alone is not as effective as engineering controls because, in most cases, they only reduce exposure - they don't eliminate, substitute or engineer out the hazard. And even more importantly, administrative controls rely on human behavior (which introduces many variables in the long run) that must be continually managed.

Personal Protective Equipment. The important thing to remember here is that PPE alone should not be relied on to provide protection against hazards, but should be used in conjunction with administration and other controls.

10. Personal protective equipment is most often used _____ engineering and administrative controls.

a. as a replacement for
b. in conjunction with
c. prior to the use of
d. to reduce the need for

Check your Work

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Personal Protective Equipment - PPE

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