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Personal Protective Equipment

Learning Objectives

  • Define personal protective equipment and the reason for using it.
  • Recall employer responsibilities to provide PPE and the employee’s responsibility to wear it.
  • Identify minimum training requirements for PPE.
  • Recall the prescribed action for new or unexpected hazards for which no personal protective equipment requirement is established.
  • Identify specific hazards posed to a worker’s eyes and face and the types of equipment that protect against those hazards.
  • Identify specific hazards posed to a worker’s head and the common types of equipment that protect against those hazards.
  • Identify specific hazards posed to a worker’s feet and the common types of equipment that protect against those hazards.
  • Identify the common types of equipment that protect against noise hazards.
  • Identify specific hazards posed to a worker’s hands and the common types of equipment that protect against those hazards.
  • Identify basic hazards posed to a worker’s respiratory system, the training that is required before use, and the basic types of equipment that protect against those hazards.
  • Identify the types of life-saving equipment that may be necessary for working safely on or near construction sites.

Available in English

45 minutes


Only 1% of approximately 770 workers who suffered face injuries were wearing face protection.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)


Take gloves, for example. Gloves can save the hands we use to make our living a lot of wear and tear. But they are easy to misplaced and easily forgotten. That’s why an average of 180,000 hand injuries occur in the workplace each year. And 70% of those victims were not wearing protective gloves.

Failure to wear the right protective gear has resulted in countless serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace from preventable accidents. That’s why the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees exposed to certain hazards. But, sometimes protective gear isn’t available or provided by employers, or, if it is available and in working condition, it may be worn or used improperly, and then injuries happen.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), “Personal protective equipment is equipment worn to minimize exposure to 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.”

Depending on the job, employees are exposed to hazards involving sharp objects, heavy equipment, falling objects, chemicals, dust and vapors, and burns and sparks, to name a few.

To control hazards, the most desirable approach is to eliminate them at the source through engineering and administrative controls. When these controls cannot eliminate the hazard, personal protective equipment (PPE), can provide acceptable protection within its capabilities and limitations.

PPE protects various parts of your body, such as:

  • Eyes and face
  • Head
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Respiratory system
  • Hearing

Life-saving equipment includes:

  • Body harnesses, lifelines, lanyards
  • Safety nets
  • Personal flotation devices (life jackets)
  • High visibility or retro-reflective clothing (safety vests)

Eye and Face Hazards

  • Each day employees are exposed to hazards that can injure their eyes and faces.
  • Eye injuries alone account for some 2,000 incidents.
  • The majority of injuries result from flying particles—liquid and dry—and vapors.
  • Intense light, radiation, and contaminated materials also pose  hazards.

All construction craft workers are exposed to hazards that can result in eye and face injury.  It is the workers’ responsibility to use PPE where a hazard exists.

Best Practices

  • Put your safety glasses on when you walk on the jobsite.
  • Don’t take them off until you leave.

Protective eyewear should:

  • Guard against the specific hazard;
  • Be comfortable and fit properly;
  • Provide unrestricted vision and movement.

Head Hazards

  • Falling objects or contact with fixed objects are the most common causes of head injury.
  • Head injury can cause permanent impairment or death.

Safety Helmets (Hard Hats)

  • Wearing a safety helmet or hard hat is one of the easiest ways to protect against head injury.
  • Must be worn whenever there is danger of objects falling from above.

Protective head equipment should:

  • Resist penetration
  • Absorb shock from a blow
  • Be water and fire resistant
  • Fit properly
  • Have clear instructions for adjustment and replacement of suspension and headband
  • Meet ANSI Standard Z89.1-2003 or equivalent ASTM standard
  • Be cleaned and inspected periodically

Hard hats must:

  • Be worn with the bill forward—if the task requires it, such as welding, the hardhat can be turned backwards but the suspension should be rotated as well;
  • Have a hard outer shell and a shock-absorbing suspension system that incorporates a headband which holds the shell from 1 to 1 ¼ inches away from the head—the suspension does 85% of the work when an object hits it—absorbing the impact.

Signs of Deterioration

  • Cracks
  • Deformities, such as a warped brim
  • Signs of penetration
  • Loss of surface gloss, flaking, chalking 

Protective footwear should:

  • Provide comfort without compromising protective value
  • Meet minimum requirements established by ASTM
  • Have a basic protective toe box for impact and compression protection
  • Have other available protective features appropriate for workplace hazards
  • Have protective footwear labeling

Protective Gloves

  • Can keep germs out
  • Can stop splinters and slivers
  • Can resist punctures and cuts
  • Are like an extra layer of tough skin
  • Wear when you are handling rough or sharp materials
  • Can protect against heat and cold

Do not wear gloves when:

  • There is a possibility they can get caught in moving machinery
  • Your supervisor has specified they are not to be worn
Course Outline
  • Introduction
  • PPE Basics
  • Eye and Face Protection
  • Head Protection
  • Foot Protection
  • Noise Protection
  • Hand Protection
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Life-Saving Equipment
Regulations
  • OSH Act Section 5 (a) (1)
  • 29 CFR 1910.132
  • 29 CFR 1910.133
  • 29 CFR 1910.134
  • 29 CFR 1910.135
  • 29 CFR 1910.136
  • 29 CFR 1910.137
  • 29 CFR 1910.138
  • 29 CFR 1910.95
  • 29 CFR 1910.146
  • 29 CFR 1910.252