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Construction Safety and Health
Outreach Program
U.S. Department of Labor
OSHA Office of Training and Education
May 1996


Safety Gear


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.

Man Wearing a Helmet


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.

Ear Protection


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.

Eye and Face Protection



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

Respiratory Protection


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 the Respiratory Protection Safety and Health Topics site.


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 -inch wire core manila 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 ½-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.