Personal protective equipment (PPE)


This page covers general personal protective equipment (PPE) issues for University of Wisconsin System campuses. PPE is most often grouped by the body part or function being protected, such as:


Using personal protective equipment, or PPE, is generally the last line of defense after engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls. Personal protective equipment is designed to protect workers from injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. PPE includes (but is not limited to) safety glasses, goggles, face shields, hard hats, safety shoes, gloves, coveralls, vests, earplugs, and respirators.

Campuses are responsible for assessing the campus workplace to determine if hazards are present that require the use of personal protective equipment. If such hazards are present, campuses are responsible for:

  • Selecting PPE that is appropriate for the hazard and activity, and that fits the employee
  • Requiring employees to use the PPE provided, and
  • Communicating the PPE selection decisions to the employees


Areas and personnel affected

See the pages on the individual topic areas listed in the sidebar menu for a list of potential areas and personnel that might require use of personal protective equipment.

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Hazard assessments

29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1) directs employers to conduct workplace hazard assessments and to select appropriate PPE. §1910.132(d)(2) contains the requirement for written certification of hazard assessment. These requirements apply the PPE regulations covering to the eye and face (§1910.133), head (§1910.135), feet (§1910.136), and hands (§1910.138).


Other material for conducting hazard assessments

Hazard Assessments for Personal Protective Equipment—UW-Milwaukee provides a good overview of the process, and has a short Hazard Assessment Survey and Analysis template and a Hazard Assessment Guide.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Hazard Assessment Survey. State of Wisconsin, 2001. 

UWSP Hazard Assessment Guide—An extensive hazard assessment document from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.

Selection Guide based on PPE Type and Selection Guide based on PPE Task (for laboratories) — Harvard University, May 2012.

Assessing the Need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the Laboratory — Chapter 6 of the Research and Laboratory Safety Guide, Tufts University, April 2010.


Training and employee information

You must also train workers who are required to wear personal protective equipment on how to do the following:

  • Use protective equipment properly,
  • Be aware of when personal protective equipment is necessary,
  • Know what kind of protective equipment is necessary,
  • Understand the limitations of personal protective equipment in protecting workers from injury,
  • Put on, adjust, wear, and take off personal protective equipment, and
  • Maintain protective equipment properly.

Laboratory employees generally need to be trained through their chemical hygiene plan, which should at a minimum meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1450(f), or at 1910.134(k) and 1910.132(f).

For all other employees, training for respiratory protection needs to meet or exceed the rules set out at 1910.134(k). Employee training for PPE protecting the eyes and face, head, feet and hands must meet or exceed the training requirements at 1910.132(f).


Training examples and material

Here are some examples to help you create or enhance your campus training material.

Purdue University: Online PPE training

Oklahoma State University: Laboratory PPE (online)


Regulations, interpretations and standards


The main personal protective equipment standards 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I, listed below.

However, there are PPE requirements throughout OSHA’s general industry standards. Personal Protective Equipment (OSHA 3151-12R, 2003), Appendix A, has a lengthy list of these other regulations that have PPE requirements.

OSHA Letters of Interpretation

There are numerous OSHA letters of interpretation concerning personal protective equipment. Go to the OSHA Standards Interpretation page for General Industry and you can search by keyword, or by regulatory section (PPE regulations in Subpart I appear in 1910.132–1910.138).

OSHA Directives or other findings

OSHA Directive CPL 02-01-050. 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart I, Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry. 

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission 

Secretary of Labor v. Hackney, 16 O.S.H. Cas. (BNA) 1806 (Rev. Comm'n. 1994); Docket 91-2490. This decision finds that 29 CFR 1910.132(a) applies to any PPE, and is not limited only to the items mentioned in the rule paragraph.


Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) adopted OSHA’s Subpart I Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards, and other PPE requirements in other specific standards, as the rule for public employees in Wisconsin. No modifications or amendments have been adopted.


Consensus Standards

OSHA requires that many categories of PPE meet or be equivalent to standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or ASTM International (ASTM). Employers who need to provide PPE in the categories listed below must make certain that any new equipment procured meets the cited standard. Existing PPE stocks must meet the standard in effect at the time of its manufacture or provide protection equivalent to PPE manufactured to the ANSI criteria. Employers should inform employees who provide their own PPE of the employer's selection decisions and ensure that any employee-owned PPE used in the workplace conforms to the employer's criteria, based on the hazard assessment, OSHA requirements and ANSI standards. OSHA requires PPE to meet the following standards:

  • Eye and Face Protection: ANSI Z87.1-1989, ANSI Z87.1-1989 (R-1998), or ANSI Z87.1-2003
  • Head Protection: ANSI Z89.1-1986, ANSI Z89.1–1997, or ANSI Z89.1–2003.
  • Foot Protection: ANSI Z41-1991, ANSI Z41–1999, or ASTM F–2412–2005.

For hand protection, there is an ANSI standard not referenced by OSHA’s general industry PPE regulation: the American National Standard for Hand Protection Selection Criteria, ANSI/ISEA 105-2011. This standard is designed to assist users and employers to select appropriate gloves for identifiable workplace hazards that could result in chemical burns, severe cuts and lacerations, and burns caused by heat and flame exposures.

There are other more specialized standards related to PPE not listed here.


Related safety program areas

Air-purifying respirator (APR); Art studios; Asbestos management; Biological agents; Confined space; Facility Repair Workers; Formaldehyde; Full-face respirator; Gloves; Half-face respirator; Hard hat; Hazardous and toxic substances; Hearing conservation; Hearing protection device (HPD); Influenza; Laboratories; Lead (Pb); Maintenance Mechanics; Painters; Permit required confined space entry; Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA); Silica (crystalline); Supplied-air respirator (SAR); Welding.


Reference material, files, and websites

General reference material

Personal Protective EquipmentUniversity of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (webpage). UWM has a page with links to various aspects of their campus PPE programs, plus very useful external reference links on the topic.

Guidelines for Personal Protective EquipmentUniversity of Washington, May 2007

Effects of Skin Contact with Chemicals: Guidance for Occupational Health Professionals and Employers. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011–200, August 2011.


Reference material for this webpage

OSHA Fact Sheet: Personal Protective Equipment. DOC 4/2006

Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA 3151-12R, 2003


Page last saved: 10/24/2013


This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.
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