OSHA Field Safety and Health Manual (SHMS)


  1. Purpose

    The object of this Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Program is to protect employees from the risk of injury by creating a barrier against workplace hazards. PPE will be provided, used, and maintained when it has been determined that its use is required and that such use will lessen the likelihood of occupational injury and/or illness.

  2. Scope

    The program applies to all employees required to wear PPE. This program addresses all forms of PPE except respiratory and hearing protection, which are addressed in separate chapters.

  3. Responsibilities
    1. Responsible OSHA Manager(s) have the primary responsibility for implementation of the PPE Program in their work area. Responsible OSHA Manager(s) will:

      1. Provide appropriate PPE and make it available to employees;

      2. Ensure and certify completion of a PPE assessment;

      3. Ensure employees are trained on the proper use, care, and cleaning of PPE;

      4. Maintain records of training and PPE supplied;

      5. Supervise employees to ensure that the PPE Program elements are followed and that employees properly use and care for PPE;

      6. Ensure defective or damaged equipment is immediately removed from service;

      7. Ensure proper disposal and cleaning of contaminated PPE; and

      8. Designate a PPE coordinator to supervise the distribution, maintenance, and care of equipment.

    2. OSHA employees are responsible for conforming to the requirements of this policy.
      Employees will:

      1. Wear PPE as necessary;

      2. Attend PPE training sessions;

      3. Care for, clean maintain and dispose of PPE as necessary; and

      4. Report any damaged or defective PPE to their responsible OSHA Manager(s).

  4. Procedure
    1. Hazard Assessment

      1. Based on a general assessment of all work sites, it is OSHA policy that all OSHA employees will utilize safety glasses, safety shoes and hard hats on construction sites and safety glasses and safety shoes on all general industrial sites. OSHA field personnel will also abide by any required PPE based on the local office hazard assessment or OSHA JHAs.

      2. At the start of any inspection/audit or other field activity, the OSHA employee will assess the need for PPE, which would include the employer’s PPE assessment.

      3. The OSHA employee will abide by the employer’s or OSHA’s PPE policy, whichever requires the greater protection.

      4. If in the course of an inspection/audit or other field activity, the OSHA professional encounters a hazardous condition requiring the use of PPE, not addressed by the employer’s PPE hazard assessment, the OSHA employee will promptly address the hazardous condition with the employer, and don the appropriate PPE before proceeding unless other appropriate action eliminates the hazard.

      5. This chapter, as well as other chapters of the SHMS addressing the following: Protection During Incident Investigations, Hearing Conservation, Fall Protection and Respiratory Protection, as well as any other OSHA JHAs that have been developed serve as OSHA’s PPE hazard assessment.

    2. General Requirements

      1. All PPE procured will be designed to meet relevant National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or other generally accepted industrial standards.

      2. Equipment will be maintained and worn in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications.

      3. Care will be taken to ensure that the correct size is selected.

    3. Eye and Face Protection

      1. Eye Protection with side protection will be worn during inspection activity.

      2. Wherever hazards exist that may require additional eye protection, goggles or face shields will be worn.

      3. Equipment fitted with appropriate filter lenses will be used to protect against light radiation. Tinted and shaded lenses are not filter lenses unless they are marked or identified as such.

      4. Prescription Safety Eyewear:

        1. For employees who wear prescription lenses, eye protectors will either incorporate the prescription in the design or fit properly over the prescription lens.

        2. Prescription safety glasses will be supplied to OSHA employees in accordance with the current negotiated agreement with the NCFLL.

      5. At a minimum, each potentially exposed OSHA employee will be provided with safety lenses with side protection and chemical splash goggles (vented type).

    4. Head Protection

      1. Hard hats equipped with limited dielectric properties will be furnished to and used by all OSHA employees while on construction sites and where it is required to be worn when hazards from falling or fixed objects or electrical shock are present.

      2. Hardhat liners will be provided to OSHA employees as appropriate.

    5. Foot Protection

      1. OSHA employees will be furnished with and are required to wear approved safety shoes or boots at all times during inspections.

      2. Safety shoes or boots with metatarsal protection will be provided and are required to be worn in work areas where heavy materials could be dropped on the foot (e.g. foundries), and where the employer being inspected required that such protection be worn.

      3. Each OSHA employee doing field work will be furnished with rubber overshoes.

    6. Hand Protection

      1. Hand protection will be worn to protect against specific hazards such as chemical exposure, electrical hazards, heat, cuts, bruises, or abrasion.

      2. Glove selection for chemical protection will be based on performance characteristics of the gloves, conditions, duration of use, and hazards present. See Chapter 8 Appendix B for examples of performance characteristics.

      3. Based on a hazard assessment, the responsible OSHA Manager(s) will select and provide appropriate hand protection to employees that are potentially exposed.

    7. Protective Clothing and Equipment

      1. Size appropriate protective clothing and equipment will be worn to protect against injury from flash fire hazards, water hazards, contact with hot or molten metal, chemical exposure, weather conditions, and hazards due to low visibility (such as on road construction sites).

      2. The following personal protective clothing and equipment will be furnished or be available to qualified OSHA employees as needed:

        1. For general inclement weather hazards, waterproof/chemical resistant jacket and pants outerwear;

        2. For water hazards, U.S Coast Guard listed personal flotation devices;

        3. For road construction, high visibility vests and amber safety lights;

        4. Appropriate fire-retardant jackets and pants, whose inventory identifying the location and size will be shared among all the offices, will be provided for the following industries:

          • Ferrous foundries;

          • Non-ferrous foundries; and

          • Chemical plants and refineries.

        5. Disposable personal protective equipment apparel:

          • Variety of sizes of full body overalls complete with head and foot cover;

          • Appropriate tape and pocket attachments as necessary; and

          • Disposable Level B suits (purchased on an as needed basis).

        6. Other specialized PPE will be provided on an as needed basis. Its use will be discussed in specific chapters (e.g. Fall Protection Electrical Safety Work Practices).

    8. Cleaning and Maintenance

      1. PPE will be inspected, cleaned, and maintained as necessary so that the PPE continues to provide the required protection. PPE will not be shared between employees until it has been properly cleaned and sanitized.

      2. PPE that cannot be decontaminated will be disposed of in compliance with applicable regulations.

    9. Training

      1. PPE training will include the following elements:

        1. When PPE is necessary;

        2. What PPE is necessary;

        3. How to properly don, doff, and adjust PPE;

        4. Limitations of PPE; and

        5. Care, maintenance, disposal, and useful life of PPE.

      2. After training, each responsible OSHA Manager(s) will ensure that each employee in their respective unit has an understanding of the proper use of personal protective equipment.

      3. Retraining is required when:

        1. There are indications that PPE is not being used properly; or

        2. There are changes in the PPE policy or equipment.

    10. Recordkeeping

      1. Written records will be kept of the names of persons trained, the type of training provided, and the dates when training occurred.

      2. All training records will be maintained at the field office for at least five years. In the event that an employee transfers to another office they will be provided with a copy of the training records.

      3. Certification of the PPE Assessment will be maintained at the local office.


Filter Lenses for Protection Against Radiation Energy

Federal Register/Vol. 59, No. 66/Wednesday, April 6, 1994/Rules and Regulations/16361

Filter Lenses for Protection Against Radiant Energy


Electrode Size –
1/32 inch

Arc Current

Minimum* Protective Shade

Shielded metal arc welding Less than 3
More than 8
Less than 60
160-250,br /> 250-550
Gas metal arc welding and flux cored welding   Less than 60
Gas tungsten arc welding   Less than 50
Air carbon arc cutting (Light)
Less than 500
Plasma arc cutting (Light)**
Less than 300
Torch brazing
Torch soldering
Carbon arc welding     14

Federal Register/Vol. 59, No. 66/Wednesday, April 6, 1994/Rules and Regulations/16361

Filter Lenses for Protection Against Radiant Energy


Plate Thickness – Inches

Plate Thickness – MM

Minimum* Protective Shade

Gas Welding:
Under 1/8
Over 2
Under 3.2
Over 12.7

*As a rule of thumb, state with a shade that is too dark to see the weld zone. Then go to a lighter shade that gives sufficient view of the weld zone without going below the minimum. In Oxyfuel gas welding or cutting where the torch produces a high yellow light, it is desirable to use a filter lens that absorbs the yellow or sodium line in the visible light of the (spectrum) operation.
**These values apply where the actual arc is clearly seen. Experience has shown that lighter filters may be used when the arc is hidden by the workpiece


Glove Chart




Use Against

Natural Rubber Low cost, good physical properties, dexterity Poor vs. oils, greases, organics; frequently imported, may be poor quality Bases, alcohols, dilute water solutions, fair vs. aldehydes, ketones
Natural rubber blends Low cost, dexterity, better chemical resistance than natural rubber vs. some chemicals Physical properties frequently inferior to natural rubber Same as natural rubber
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Low cost, very good physical properties, medium cost, medium chemical resistance Plasticizers can be stripped, frequently imported, may be poor quality Strong acids and bases, salts, other water solutions, alcohols
Neoprene Medium cost, medium chemical resistance, medium physical properties N/A Oxidizing acids, anilines, phenol, glycol ethers
Nitrile Low cost, excellent physical properties, dexterity Poor vs. benzene, methylene chloride, trechloroethylene, many ketones Oils, greases, aliphatic chemicals, xylene, perchloroethylene, trichloroethane; fair vs. toluene
Butyl Specialty glove, polar organic Expensive, poor vs. hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents Glycol ethers, ketones, esters
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) Specialty glove, organic solvents Very expensive, water sensitive, poor vs. light alcohols Aliphatics, aromatics, chlorinated solvents, ketones (except acetone), esters, ethers
Fluoro-elastomer (Viton)* Organic solvent Poor physical properties, poor vs. some ketones, esters, amines Chlorinated solvents, also aliphatics and alcohols
Norfiol (Silver Shield) Excellent chemical resistance Poor fit, easily punctures, poor grip, stiff Use for Hazmat work

*Trademark of DuPont Dow elastomers