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Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment

Course Outline

This one-hour course is intended to provide a general overview of personal protective and life saving equipment for anyone engaged in the construction activities. The course material is primarily based on Subpart E of OSHA Regulation 1926 - Safety and Health Regulations for Construction. Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers are discussed. This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

The objective of this course is to assist in providing a safe and healthful workplace. At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Course Introduction

The goal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women in the nation. This Act, which established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the Department of Labor, provides for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health and authorizes enforcement of OSHA standards. This landmark legislation, the first national safety and health law, establishes standards requiring employers to provide their workers with workplaces free from recognized hazards that could cause serious injury or death. It also requires the employees to abide by all safety and health standards that apply to their jobs.

Course Content

Using personal protective equipment requires hazard awareness and training on the part of the user. Employees must be aware that the equipment does not eliminate the hazard. If the equipment fails, exposure will occur. To reduce the possibility of failure, equipment must be properly fitted and maintained in a clean and serviceable condition. The followings summarize the OSHA regulations concerning the personal protective and life saving equipment.



Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.

Employee-Owned Equipment

Where employees provide their own protective equipment, the employer shall be responsible to assure its adequacy, including proper maintenance, and sanitation of such equipment.


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



Safety-toe footwear for employees shall meet the requirements and specifications in American National Standard for Men's Safety-Toe Footwear, ANSI Z41.1-1967.



Employees working in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns shall be protected by protective helmets.

Helmets for the protection of employees against impact and penetration of falling and flying objects shall meet the specifications contained in American National Standards Institute, ANSI Z89.1-1969, Safety Requirements for Industrial Head Protection.

Helmets for the head protection of employees exposed to high voltage electrical shock and burns shall meet the specifications contained in American National Standards Institute, ANSI Z89.2-1971.



Wherever it is not feasible to reduce the noise levels or duration of exposures to those specified in Table D-2, Permissible Noise Exposures, in §1926.52, ear protective devices shall be provided and used.

Hearing protective devices inserted in the ear shall be fitted or determined individually by competent persons.

Plain cotton is not an acceptable protective device.




Employees shall be provided with eye and face protection equipment when machines or operations present potential eye or face injury from physical, chemical, or radiation agents.

Eye and face protection equipment required by this section shall meet the requirements specified in American National Standards Institute, ANSI Z87.1-1968, Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection.

Employees whose vision requires the use of corrective lenses in spectacles, when required by this regulation to wear eye protection, shall be protected by goggles or spectacles of one of the following types:

Spectacles whose protective lenses provide optical correction;
Goggles that can be worn over corrective spectacles without disturbing the adjustment of the spectacles; or
Goggles that incorporate corrective lenses mounted behind the protective lenses.
Face and eye protection equipment shall be kept clean and in good repair. The use of this type equipment with structural or optical defects shall be prohibited.

Table E-1 in §1926.102 shall be used as a guide in the selection of face and eye protection for the hazards and operations noted.

Protectors shall meet the following minimum requirements:

Provide adequate protection against the particular hazards for which they are designed
Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions
Fit snugly and not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer
Be durable
Be capable of being disinfected
Be easily cleanable
Every protector shall be distinctly marked to facilitate identification only of the manufacturer.

When limitations or precautions are indicated by the manufacturer, they shall be transmitted to the user and care taken to see that such limitations and precautions are strictly observed.

Protection Against Radiant Energy

Table E-2 in §1926.102(b)(1) shall be used as a guide for the selection of the proper shade numbers of filter lenses or plates used in welding. Shades more dense than those listed may be used to suit the individual's needs.

Employees whose occupation or assignment requires exposure to laser beams shall be furnished suitable laser safety goggles which will protect for the specific wavelength of the laser and be of optical density (O.D.) adequate for the energy involved. Table E-3 in §1926.102(b)(2) lists the maximum power or energy density for which adequate protection is afforded by glasses of optical densities from 5 through 8.

All protective goggles shall bear a label identifying the following data:

The laser wavelengths for which use is intended
The optical density of those wavelengths
The visible light transmission



On October 5, 1998, OSHA's revised Respiratory Protection Standard took effect. It replaces the standards adopted in 1971 (29 CFR 1910.134 and 29 CFR 1926.103), and it applies to general industry, construction, shipyard, longshoring, and marine terminal workplaces.

For more information, see 29 CFR 1910.134



Lifelines, safety belts, and lanyards shall be used only for employee safeguarding. Any lifeline, safety belt, or lanyard actually subjected to in-service loading, as distinguished from static load testing, shall be immediately removed from service and shall not be used again for employee safeguarding.

Lifelines shall be secured above the point of operation to an anchorage or structural member capable of supporting a minimum dead weight of 5,400 pounds.

Lifelines used on rock-scaling operations, or in areas where the lifeline may be subjected to cutting or abrasion, shall be a minimum of 7/8-inch wire core manilla rope. For all other lifeline applications, a minimum of ¾-inch manila or equivalent, with a minimum breaking strength of 5,400 pounds, shall be used.

Safety belt lanyard shall be a minimum of 1/2-inch nylon, or equivalent, with a maximum length to provide for a fall of no greater than 6 feet. The rope shall have a nominal breaking strength of 5,400 pounds.

All safety belt and lanyard hardware shall be drop forged or pressed steel, cadmium plated in accordance with type 1, Class B plating specified in Federal Specification QQ-P-416. Surface shall be smooth and free of sharp edges.

All safety belt and lanyard hardware, except rivets, shall be capable of withstanding a tensile loading of 4,000 pounds without cracking, breaking, or taking a permanent deformation.


SAFETY NETS - §1926.105

Safety nets shall be provided when workplaces are more than 25 feet above the ground or water surface, or other surfaces where the use of ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, temporary floors, safety lines, or safety belts is impractical.

Where safety net protection is required by this section, operations shall not be undertaken until the net is in place and has been tested.

Nets shall extend 8 feet beyond the edge of the work surface where employees are exposed and shall be installed as close under the work surface as practical but in no case more than 25 feet below such work surface. Nets shall be hung with sufficient clearance to prevent user's contact with the surfaces or structures below. Such clearances shall be determined by impact load testing.

It is intended that only one level of nets be required for bridge construction.

The mesh size of nets shall not exceed 6 inches by 6 inches. All new nets shall meet accepted performance standards of 17,500 foot-pounds minimum impact resistance as determined and certified by the manufacturers, and shall bear a label of proof test. Edge ropes shall provide a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds.

Forged steel safety hooks or shackles shall be used to fasten the net to its supports.

Connections between net panels shall develop the full strength of the net.



Employees working over or near water, where the danger of drowning exists, shall be provided with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vests.

Prior to and after each use, the buoyant work vests or life preservers shall be inspected for defects which would alter their strength or buoyancy. Defective units shall not be used.

Ring buoys with at least 90 feet of line shall be provided and readily available for emergency rescue operations. Distance between ring buoys shall not exceed 200 feet.

At least one lifesaving skiff shall be immediately available at locations where employees are working over or adjacent to water.


Selection Guidelines

Selection of the proper personal protective equipment for a job is important. OSHA Regulation 1910 Subpart I App B contains the following guidelines for personal protective equipment selection.

Selection Chart Guidelines for Eye and Face Protection

Some occupations (not a complete list) for which eye protection should be routinely considered are: carpenters, electricians, machinists, mechanics and repairers, millwrights, plumbers and pipe fitters, sheet metal workers and tinsmiths, assemblers, sanders, grinding machine operators, lathe and milling machine operators, sawyers, welders, laborers, chemical process operators and handlers, and timber cutting and logging workers. The following chart provides general guidance for the proper selection of eye and face protection to protect against hazards associated with the listed hazard "source" operations.

          Eye and Face Protection Selection Chart
     Source              Assessment of Hazard           Protection
IMPACT - Chipping,        Flying fragments,    Spectacles with side
 grinding machining,       objects, large       protection,
 masonry work,             chips, particles     goggles,  face
 woodworking, sawing,      sand, dirt, etc. ..  shields. See
 drilling, chiseling,                           notes (1), (3),
 powered fastening,                             (5), (6), (10).
 riveting, and                                  For severe
 sanding.                                       exposure, use
HEAT-Furnace operations,  Hot sparks .......... Faceshields,
 pouring, casting, hot                           goggles, spectacles
 dipping, and welding.                           with side
                                                 protection. For
                                                 severe exposure
                                                 use faceshield.
                                                  See notes (1),
                                                  (2), (3).
                         Splash from molten    Faceshields worn
                            metals...........    over goggles. See
                                                 notes (1), (2),
                         High temperature      Screen face shields,
                            exposure.........    reflective face
                                                 shields. See notes
                                                 (1), (2), (3).
CHEMICALS-Acid and        Splash ............   Goggles, eyecup and
 chemicals handling,                             cover types. For
 degreasing plating.                             severe exposure,
                                                 use face shield.
                                                 See notes (3),
                         Irritating mists ..   Special-purpose
DUST - Woodworking,       Nuisance dust .....   Goggles, eyecup and
 buffing, general                                cover types.
 dusty conditions.                               See note (8).
LIGHT and/or RADIATION -  Optical radiation .   Welding helmets or
 Welding: Electric arc                           welding shields.
                                                 Typical shades:
                                                 10-14. See notes
                                                 (9), (12).
 Welding: Gas            Optical radiation .   Welding goggles or
                                                 welding face
                                                 shield. Typical
                                                 shades: gas
                                                 welding 4-8,
                                                 cutting 3-6,
                                                 brazing 3-4. See
                                                 note (9).
 Cutting, Torch          Optical radiation ..  Spectacles or
   brazing, Torch                                welding
   soldering                                     face-shield.
                                                 Typical shades,
                                                 1.5-3. See notes
                                                 (3), (9).
 Glare                   Poor vision ........  Spectacles with
                                                 shaded or
                                                 lenses, as
                                                 suitable. See
                                                 notes (9), (10).
 Notes to Eye and Face Protection Selection Chart:
 (1) Care should be taken to recognize the possibility of multiple
and simultaneous exposure to a variety of hazards. Adequate
protection against the highest level of each of the hazards should be
provided. Protective devices do not provide unlimited protection.
 (2) Operations involving heat may also involve light radiation. As
required by the standard, protection from both hazards must be
 (3) Faceshields should only be worn over primary eye protection
(spectacles or goggles).
 (4) As required by the standard, filter lenses must meet the
requirements for shade designations in 1910.133(a)(5). Tinted and
shaded lenses are not filter lenses unless they are marked or
identified as such.
 (5) As required by the standard, persons whose vision requires the
use of prescription (Rx) lenses must wear either protective devices
fitted with prescription (Rx) lenses or protective devices designed
to be worn over regular prescription (Rx) eyewear.
 (6) Wearers of contact lenses must also wear appropriate eye and
face protection devices in a hazardous environment. It should be
recognized that dusty and/or chemical environments may represent an
additional hazard to contact lens wearers.
 (7) Caution should be exercised in the use of metal frame
protective devices in electrical hazard areas.
 (8) Atmospheric conditions and the restricted ventilation of the
protector can cause lenses to fog. Frequent cleansing may be
 (9) Welding helmets or faceshields should be used only over primary
eye protection (spectacles or goggles).
 (10) Non-sideshield spectacles are available for frontal protection
only, but are not acceptable eye protection for the sources and
operations listed for "impact."
 (11) Ventilation should be adequate, but well protected from splash

Selection Guidelines for Head Protection

All head protection (helmets) is designed to provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by falling objects. Head protection is also available which provides protection from electric shock and burn. When selecting head protection, knowledge of potential electrical hazards is important. Class A helmets, in addition to impact and penetration resistance, provide electrical protection from low-voltage conductors (they are proof tested to 2,200 volts). Class B helmets, in addition to impact and penetration resistance, provide electrical protection from high-voltage conductors (they are proof tested to 20,000 volts). Class C helmets provide impact and penetration resistance (they are usually made of aluminum which conducts electricity), and should not be used around electrical hazards.

Where falling object hazards are present, helmets must be worn. Some examples include: working below other workers who are using tools and materials which could fall; working around or under conveyor belts which are carrying parts or materials; working below machinery or processes which might cause material or objects to fall; and working on exposed energized conductors. Some examples of occupations for which head protection should be routinely considered are: carpenters, electricians, linemen, mechanics and repairers, plumbers and pipe fitters, assemblers, packers, wrappers, sawyers, welders, laborers, freight handlers, timber cutting and logging, stock handlers, and warehouse laborers.

Employers and employees must understand the equipment's purpose and its limitations. The equipment must not be altered or removed even though an employee may find it uncomfortable.



Prevention of head injuries is an important factor in every safety program. A survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of accidents and injuries noted that most workers who suffered impact injuries to the head were not wearing head protection. The BLS survey also noted that more than one-half of the workers were struck in the head while they were looking down and almost three-tenths were looking straight ahead. Although a third of the unprotected workers were injured when bumping into stationary objects, such actions injured only one-eighth of hard hat wearers. Elimination or control of a hazard leading to an accident causing head injuries is of a type difficult to anticipate and control. Where these conditions exist, head protection must be provided to prevent injury.

The BLS study found that about 60 percent of workers who suffered eye injuries were not wearing eye protective equipment. When asked why they were not wearing face protection at the time of the accident, workers indicated that face protection was not normally used or practiced in their type of work, or it was not required for the type of work performed at the time of the accident.

Suitable eye protectors must be provided where there is a potential for injury to the eyes or face from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, potentially injurious light radiation or a combination of these.

OSHA and the National Society to Prevent Blindness recommend that emergency eyewashes be placed in all hazardous locations. First-aid instructions should be posted close to potential danger spots since any delay to immediate aid or an early mistake in dealing with an injury can resulting in lasting damage.

Exposure to high noise levels can cause hearing loss or impairment. It can create physical and psychological stress. There is no cure for noise-induced hearing loss, so the prevention of excessive noise exposure is the only way to avoid hearing damage.

Specifically designed protection is required, depending on the type of noise encountered and the auditory condition of the employee. Preformed or molded earplugs should be individually fitted by a professional. Waxed cotton, foam, or fiberglass wool earplugs are self-forming. When properly inserted, they work as well as most molded earplugs.

Respirators shall be used in the following circumstances:

1. Where exposure levels exceed the permissible exposure limit (PEL), during the time period necessary to install or implement feasible engineering and work practice controls;

2. In those maintenance and repair activities and during those brief or intermittent operations where exposures exceed the PEL and engineering and work practice controls are not feasible or are not required;

3. In regulated areas;

4. Where the employer has implemented all feasible engineering and work practice controls and such controls are not sufficient to reduce exposures to or below the PEL;

5. In emergencies.

You may visit the OSHA website to obtain the original text and standard interpretations of OSHA Regulation 1926 Subpart E - Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment. For more information, you may refer to OSHA Regulation 1910 Subpart I - Personal Protective Equipment for the general Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirement in the workplace.

Course Summary

Workplace safety is an important part of every safety and health program. Through this online course, licensed professionals and contractors can learn the general OSHA requirements on personal protective and life saving equipment.

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The MSDS HyperGlossary: Personal Protective Equipment, PPE
Workplace Safety: An Overview


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.


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DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered professional engineer. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.