Personal Protective Equipment

The objective of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Program is to protect employees from the risk of injury by creating a barrier against workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment is not a substitute for good engineering and administrative controls or good work practices, but instead should be used in conjunction (with these controls) to ensure the safety and health of employees. Personal protective equipment will be provided, used, and maintained when it has been determined that its use is required and that such use will lessen the likelihood of occupational injury and/or illness.

Head Protection

Head protection will be furnished to, and used by, all employees and contractors engaged in construction and other miscellaneous work. Head protection is also required to be worn by engineers, inspectors, and visitors at construction sites when hazards from falling or fixed objects, or electrical shock are present. Bump caps/skull guards will be issued and worn for protection against scalp lacerations from contact with sharp objects. However, they will not be worn as substitutes for safety caps/hats because they do not afford protection from high impact forces or penetration by falling objects.

Head Protection Equipment

Type 1 (helmets with full brim, not less than 1 and 1/4 inches wide).
Type 2 (Brimless helmets with a peak extending forward from the crown).
Class A (impact and penetration resistance, plus low-voltage electrical insulation).
Class B (impact and penetration resistance, plus high-voltage electrical insulation).
Class C (impact and penetration resistance).

Eye and Face Protection

Prevention of eye injuries requires that all persons who may be in eye hazard areas wear protective eyewear. This includes employees, visitors, researchers, contractors, or others passing through an identified eye hazard area. To provide protection for these personnel, supervisors of such areas shall procure a sufficient quantity of goggles and/or plastic eye protectors that afford the maximum amount of protection possible. If these personnel wear personal glasses, they shall be provided with a suitable eye protector to wear over them.

Eye and Face Protection Equipment

  • Safety glasses with side shields for moderate impact and particles encountered in grinding and scaling etc.
  • Single lens goggles with clear or tinted lenses, perforated, port vented, or non-vented frames offer protection similar to safety glasses but may be worn over prescription eyeglasses.
  • Welder goggles have impact resistant lenses and provide protection from sparking, scaling, or splashing metals and harmful rays.
  • Chipper/grinder goggles provide eye protection from flying particles.
  • Face shields protect eyes and face against flying particles, metal sparks, and chemical/biological splash.
  • Welding shields protect worker's eyes and face from infrared or radiant light burns, flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips encountered during welding, brazing, soldering, resistance welding, bare or shielded electric arc welding, and oxyacetylene welding and cutting operations.

Emergency Eyewash Facilities

Emergency eyewash facilities meeting the requirements of ANSI Z358.1 will be provided in all areas where the eyes of any employee may be exposed to corrosive materials. All such emergency facilities will be located where they are easily accessible in an emergency.

Hand Protection

Suitable gloves shall be worn when hazards from chemicals, cuts, lacerations, abrasions, punctures, burns, biological, and harmful temperature extremes are present. Glove selection shall be based on performance characteristics of the gloves, conditions, duration of use, and hazards present. One type of glove will not work in all situations.

The first consideration in the selection of gloves for use against chemicals is to determine, if possible, the exact nature of the substances to be encountered. Read instructions and warnings on chemical container labels and MSDS before working with any chemical. Recommended glove types are often listed in the section for personal protective equipment.

Chemicals eventually permeate all glove materials. However, they can be used safely for limited time periods if specific use and other characteristics (i.e., thickness and permeation rate and time) are known. The Office of Health and Safety can assist in determining the specific type of glove material that should be worn for a particular chemical.

Hand Protection Equipment

  • Disposable gloves made of lightweight plastic help guard against mild irritants.
  • Fabric gloves made of cotton or blends improve grip and help insulate against mild cold and heat.
  • Leather gloves guard against injuries from sparks or scraping against rough surfaces. They are also used with an insulated liner to guard against electrical hazards.
  • Metal mesh gloves protect from cuts and scratches when working with cutting tools or sharp instruments.
  • Aluminized gloves are designed to insulate hands from intense heat and are commonly used when working with molten materials.
  • Chemical resistant gloves made of rubber, neoprene, polyvinyl alcohol or vinyl protect hands from corrosives, oils, and solvents.

Foot Protection

Safety shoes or boots with impact protection are required to be worn in work areas where carrying or handling materials such as packages, objects, parts or heavy tools, which could be dropped; and for other activities where objects might fall onto the feet. Safety shoes or boots with compression protection are required for work activities involving skid trucks (manual materials handling cars) or other activities in which materials or equipment could potentially roll over an employee's feet. Safety shoes or boots with puncture protection are required where sharp objects such as nails, wire, tacks, screws, large staples, scrap metal etc., could be stepped on by employees causing a foot injury.

Foot Protection Equipment

There are many types and styles of protective footwear and it is important to realize that a particular job may require additional protection other than listed here. Footwear that meets established safety standards will have an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) label inside each shoe.

  • Steel-Reinforced Safety Shoes. These shoes are designed to protect feet from common machinery hazards such as falling or rolling objects, cuts, and punctures. The entire toe box and insole are reinforced with steel, and the instep is protected by steel, aluminum, or plastic material. Safety shoes are also designed to insulate against temperature extremes and may be equipped with special soles to guard against slip, chemicals, and/or electrical hazards.
  • Safety Boots. Safety boots offer more protection when splash or spark hazards (chemicals, molten materials) are present.
  • When working with corrosives, caustics, cutting oils, and petroleum products, neoprene or nitrile boots are often required to prevent penetration.
  • Foundry or Gaiter style boots feature quick-release fasteners or elasticized insets to allow speedy removal should any hazardous substances get into the boot itself.
  • When working with electricity, special electrical hazard boots are available and are designed with no conductive materials other than the steel toe (which is properly insulated).

Hearing Protection

Wherever it is not feasible to reduce the noise levels or duration of exposures to those specified as Permissible Noise Exposures, in OSHA 1926.52, ear protective devices should be provided and used.

Types of Hearing Protective Devices Include:

Insert Type Earplugs

A device designed to provide an airtight seal with the ear canal. There are three types of insert earplugs - premolded, formable and custom earplugs.

  • Premolded Earplugs
    Premolded earplugs are pliable devices of fixed proportions. Two standard styles, single flange and triple flange, come in various sizes, and will fit most people. Personnel responsible for fitting and dispensing earplugs will train users on proper insertion, wear, and care. While premolded earplugs are reusable, they may deteriorate and should be replaced periodically.
  • Formable Earplugs
    Formable earplugs come in just one size. Some are made of material that, after being compressed and inserted, expands to form a seal in the ear canal. When properly inserted, they provide noise attenuation values that are similar to those from correctly fitted premolded earplugs. Individual units may procure approved formable earplugs. Supervisors must instruct users in the proper use of these earplugs as part of the annual education program. Each earplug must be held in place while it expands enough to remain firmly seated. A set of earplugs with a cord attached is available. These earplugs may be washed and therefore are reusable, but will have to be replaced after two or three weeks or when they no longer form an airtight seal when properly inserted.
  • Custom Molded Earplugs
    A small percentage of the population cannot be fitted with standard premolded or formable earplugs. Custom earplugs can be made to fit the exact size and shape of the individual's ear canal. Individuals needing custom earplugs will be referred to an audiologist.


Earmuffs are devices worn around the ear to reduce the level of noise that reaches the ear. Their effectiveness depends on an airtight seal between the cushion and the head.