Personal Protective Equipment

What is personal protective equipment?

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as “PPE”, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.

What can be done to ensure proper use of personal protective equipment?

All personal protective equipment should be safely designed and constructed, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. It should fit comfortably, encouraging worker use. If the personal protective equipment does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed. When engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment to their workers and ensure its proper use. Employers are also required to train each worker required to use personal protective equipment to know:

  • When it is necessary
  • What kind is necessary
  • How to properly put it on, adjust, wear and take it off
  • The limitations of the equipment
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the equipment

If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.


Personal protective equipment is addressed in specific OSHA standards for general industry, maritime, and construction. OSHA requires that many categories of personal protective equipment meet or be equivalent to standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

  • Hazards and Solutions

    The following references aid in recognizing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and provides information about proper PPE selection and usage. Related Safety and Health Topics Pages Eye and…

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  • OSHA Publications and Fact Sheets on PPE

    Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA Fact Sheet (Publication 3603), (2012). Also available in Portuguese and Spanish. This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards. Personal Protective…

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  • OSHA eTools

    Eye and Face Protection. Discusses standards, hazards and solutions, and additional resources for PPE for the eyes and face. Electric Power: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). (January 2010). Discusses PPE often…

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  • PPE in Agriculture

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Some tasks on the farm contain hazards that must be done wearing personal protective clothing and/or specialized safety equipment if workers…

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  • PPE in Construction

    Personal protective equipment (PPE) hazards are addressed in specific standards for the construction industry. OSHA Standards For PPE In Construction This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Register notices (rules and…

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  • Additional PPE resources

    Exemption for Religious Reason from Wearing Hard Hats. STD 01-06-005 [STD 1-6.5], (June 20, 1994). OSHA Instruction STD 1-6.5 dated June 20, 1994 states that OSHA has granted an exemption…

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  • PPE Selection and Managing Workplace PPE Programs

    Personal Protective Equipment. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Contains links to PPE related topics such as eye protection, hearing protection, skin exposures…

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  • PPE Training Materials and Training Resources

    Assessment the Need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). OSHA. A guide created by the OSHA Training Institute intended to help readers to conduct PPE assessments, includes assessment checklists. Personal Protective…

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  • Payment for Personal Protective Equipment

    Many Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require employers to provide personal protective equipment, when it is necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. With few…

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  • PPE for Emergency Responders

    Emergency Preparedness and Response Resources. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Addresses respirators, protective clothing, latex allergy and eye protection as they relate to emergency response settings. Emergency…

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