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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.132

August 6, 2013

Mrs. Diane Stein
Safety and Health Coordinator
City Employee Union Local 237
216 West 14th Street
New York, N.Y. 10011-7296

Dear Mrs. Stein:

Thank you for your June 5, 2013, correspondence to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You requested that OSHA provide an interpretation or specific guidance regarding body armor.

Your paraphrased question, and our response, is provided below.

Question: Does the Personal Protective Equipment (POE) standard, specifically 29 CF 191 0.132(a) apply to body armor (such as, but not limited to, bullet or stab resistant vests)?

Reply: If an employer chooses bullet proof vests and body armor to protect its employees on the job from gunshot wounds and knife stab wounds, the employer must select equipment that is adequate to protect against these hazards and must provide it at no cost to its employee. OSHA considers equipment or clothing such as body armor, a bullet proof vest or a stab-resistant vest, to be personal protective equipment that may be required by 1910.132(a)1 and would not be ordinary clothing or everyday clothing for purposes of the exceptions for payment at 1910.132(h)(4)(ii)2 or (iii)3."

It is important to note that Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 encourages states to develop and operate their own safety and health programs that may have different standards from OHSA's standards, but are determined to be at least as effective. Currently there are 22 states and U.S. territories that operate State Plans which cover both the private sector and state and local government employees, and five State Plans which cover public employees only.

The State of New York is one of these 27 State Plans and operates its own occupational safety and health program for the public sector only under a plan approved and monitored by OSHA. The Division of Safety and Health (DOSH), within the New York State Department of Labor, administers the Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) program which enforces safety and health standards.

If you would like more information, please go to PESH's website PESH.shtm or contact them directly:
New York State Department of Labor
Public Employee Safety and Health - Albany District Office
State Office Campus, Building 12, Room 158
Albany, New York 12240
Ph: (518) 457-1263
Fax: (518) 457-5545

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OHSA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules.


Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

1 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

2 Everyday clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants, street shoes, and normal work boots

3 Ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items, used solely for protection from weather, such as winter coats, jackets, gloves, parkas, rubber boots, hats, raincoats, ordinary sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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