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

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

How Workers Are Getting Hurt

Workers involved in oil and gas production are exposed to a significant risk of death or injury from being struck by various objects in the workplace. A significant portion of all work related injuries and fatalities in the oil and gas industry involve workers being struck in the eyes, head, face, hand, and or feet by foreign objects.

Two major factors causing these injuries have been identified:

  • Personal protective equipment was not being worn the vast majority of the time.
  • When some type of protective equipment was worn, it did not fully protect the worker.

Management’s Obligation

Management has an obligation to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees. The PPE provided should include equipment for the eyes, face, head, and extremities. Protective clothing and barriers should also be provided. The employer should make sure employees use and maintain PPE in a sanitary and reliable condition.

Defective or damaged personal protective equipment should 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 not PPE.

Hazard Assessment and Equipment Selection

A hazard assessment should be conducted prior to the use of PPE because it produces the information needed to select the appropriate PPE for any hazards present or likely to be present on an oil and gas facility.

It is a performance-oriented provision that simply requires management to use their awareness of workplace hazards to enable them to select the appropriate PPE for the work being performed.


Head Protection

Protective hardhats for head protection against impact blows should be able to withstand penetration and absorb the shock of a blow. In some cases hardhats should also protect against electric shock. Recognized standards for hardhats have been established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Head and facial hair should not interfere with normal work activities or respiratory protection equipment (RPE).

Workers with long hair that may create a hazard from being snagged should be required to keep it contained in an appropriate manner.

eye protection

Eye Protection

Eye protection should be routinely considered for use by many professions including: carpenters, electricians, machinists, mechanics, millwrights, plumbers and pipefitters, sheet metal workers and tinsmiths, assemblers, sanders, grinding machine operators, sawyers, welders, laborers, and chemical process operators and handlers.

Examples of potential eye or face injuries include:

  • dust, dirt, and metal entering the eye from activities such as grinding, sanding, sawing, hammering, the use of power tools or even strong wind forces
  • chemical splashes from corrosive substances, hot liquids, solvents or other hazardous solutions
  • objects swinging into the eye or face, such as chains, tools or ropes
  • radiant energy from welding, harmful rays from the use of lasers or other radiant light (as well as heat, glare, sparks, splash and flying particles)

Hearing Protection


Noise-induced hearing loss is the term for hearing damaged by exposure to excessive noise. The damage to hearing caused by too much noise may not be apparent for years.

Workers can damage hearing if they are continually exposed to noise greater than 85 decibels more than eight hours. As noise levels rise above 85 decibels, the safe exposure time for unprotected ears falls dramatically. For example, 110-decibel noise can impair hearing after just 15 minutes of exposure.

A qualified person should evaluate the hazards due to noise in the workplace using one of the following three methods:

  • Area monitoring: A sound-level meter is used to identify areas in the workplace that may put workers’ hearing at risk.
  • Personal monitoring: A sound-level meter and a dosimeter is used to estimate an individual’s daily noise exposure.
  • Engineering survey: Noise levels produced by machinery in different operating modes is monitored to find ways to eliminate or control the noise.

Preformed or molded ear plugs should be individually fitted by a professional. Waxed cotton, foam or fiberglass wool earplugs are self-forming. Disposable earplugs should be used once and thrown away; non-disposable ones should be cleaned after each use for proper maintenance.

Respiratory Protection

Respirators are devices that protect employees from inhaling harmful substances, including chemical, biological, and radiological agents. These substances can be in the form of airborne vapors, gases, dust, fogs, fumes, mists, smokes, or sprays.

Some respirators also ensure that employees do not breathe air that contains dangerously low levels of oxygen or that is otherwise immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH), (e.g., life-threatening exposures during interior structural firefighting.)

Respirators may be used to provide protection during routine operations where engineering controls and work practices are not able to provide sufficient protection from these hazards, or in emergencies.

When using respiratory protective equipment:

  • Wear the appropriate respiratory protective equipment if workers are or may be exposed to airborne contaminants or a mixture of airborne contaminants in concentrations exceeding the permissible exposure limits, such as:
    • atmospheres with an oxygen concentration of less than 19.5 percent by volume
    • other airborne contaminants, such as dusts, hazardous and noxious fumes
  • Respiratory protective equipment should be National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved and selected for workers in accordance with ANSI Z88.2-1992 Selection, Use, and Care of Respirators
  • Make respiratory equipment readily accessible, stored, and maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, inspected before and after each use to ensure it is in satisfactory working condition, and serviced and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Properly fit and fit test respiratory protective equipment used by workers on company locations in accordance to the ANSI Z88.2-1992 standard to ensure an effective facial seal. Workers should be prepared to provide proof of fit testing when requested.
  • Workers required to wear respiratory protective equipment should be clean-shaven as per the company’s SEMS II plan.
  • Contractors should make sure that their Respiratory Protective Equipment practices are in compliance with applicable regulatory agency legislation.
  • Workers wearing respirators should be medically examined and cleared prior to first use.
  • To make sure the proper respiratory protective equipment is being used on the job, workers should review the related Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

Hand Protection


Burns, cuts, electrical shock, amputation and absorption of chemicals are examples of hazards associated with arm and hand injuries. A wide assortment of gloves, hand pads, sleeves and wristlets for protection from these hazards should be made available to employees.

Hand protection should be selected to fit the specific task. Rubber is considered the best material for insulating gloves and sleeves and should conform to ANSI.


Jewelry or other adornments that may cause an injury from snagging or hanging should not be worn when exposed to moving parts or electrical hazards.

Scenario: De-gloving Of A Finger Caused By A Ring

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 a 100 plus days in the hospital the finger is semi useable. The stomach skin on the ring finger is more sensitive than the other finger's skin. (Source: OR-OSHA)

Foot Protection

Foot protection is necessary for protection against falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, molten metal, hot surfaces and wet, slippery surfaces.

Workers exposed to these hazards should use:

  • appropriate foot guards
  • safety shoes, or
  • boots and leggings

Safety shoes should be sturdy and have an impact- resistant toe. Shoes should meet ANSI standards.

Clothing – Torso Protection


Many hazards can threaten the torso: heat, splashes from hot metals and liquids, impacts, cuts, acids, and radiation. A variety of protective clothing is available, including:

  • vests
  • jackets
  • aprons
  • coveralls
  • full body suits

Fire retardant wool and specially treated cotton clothing items are comfortable, and they adapt well to a variety of workplace temperatures. Other types of protection include leather, rubberized fabrics, and disposable suits.

Make sure proper protective clothing is worn during hazardous work tasks. Never wear clothing that contains or is saturated with any flammable, hazardous or irritating substance(s). Remove, such clothing immediately, wash any affected areas on the skin, and replace with suitable clothing.

Loose or poorly fitted clothing should never be worn when working around moving parts, or tasks where clothing may become snagged.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. A/an _____ should be conducted prior to the first use of PPE on an oil and gas platform because it produces the information needed for the appropriate selection of PPE.

2. Workers can damage hearing if they are continually exposed to noise greater than _____ decibels for more than eight hours.

3. Gloves, hand pads, sleeves and wristlets can be used to protect against one or more of the following, except _____.

4. Clothing that contains or is saturated with any flammable, hazardous or irritating substance(s) should be _____.

5. Jewelry or other adornments that may cause an injury from snagging or hanging should not be worn when exposed to _____.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.