What Does PPE Mean?

What is PPE?

In short, PPE means personal protective equipment. This equipment can vary depending on the type of job you are doing and the types of hazards you are exposed to. PPE is equipment that is meant to minimize hazard exposure in the workplace. It may protect a worker from chemical, electrical, mechanical, radiological, or other hazards. It may include safety glasses, special shoes, gloves, respirators, and even full body suits.

Examples of PPE include:PPE

  • Eyes – safety glasses or goggles
  • Face – face shield
  • Head – hard hat
  • Feet – hard-toed shoes or boots
  • Hands - gloves
  • Ears – ear plugs, earmuffs 
  • Respiratory system- face masks, respirators

If PPE is used on the job, a program should be implemented to ensure correct use, care, and maintenance of the equipment. It is important that employees know when to use the PPE, what kind of PPE is needed, how to properly wear and adjust the PPE, the limitations of the equipment, and the proper care of the equipment.

In general, employers are required to pay for and provide PPE. Exceptions include safety-toe protective footwear and prescription safety glasses, since these tend to be personal items that are often worn off the job as well.

OSHA has General Industry Standards related to PPE: 1910 Subpart I specifically covers PPE, including eye and face protection, respiratory protection, head protection, foot protection, electrical protective equipment, hand protection, and personal fall protection systems. 1926 Subpart E covers personal protective and life saving equipment for the construction industry.


Common Violations

During fiscal year 2020, two of the top ten most cited OSHA standards were related to PPE:

#2 - 29 CFR 1910.134 Respiratory Protection, General Industry

#9 - 29 CFR 1926.102 Eye and Face Protection


Respiratory Protection

Respirators are required in many workplaces to protect workers against insufficient oxygen, dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, vapors, gases, and sprays. OSHA has a safety and health topics page about Respiratory Protection that covers general guidance and offers helpful training videos. National Environmental Trainers (NET) also has a blog post about complying with respiratory protection requirements.


Eye and Face Protection

There are thousands of people that are blinded each year from work-related injuries that could have been prevented with the proper use of PPE. The safety and health topics page about Eye and Face Protection covers hazards and solutions, as well as additional resources.

PPE is an incredibly important part of the job and is meant to keep you safe from hazards. Although there are other controls that can help limit exposure to hazards, PPE is part of the solution. PPE means better safety for you and your employees.