Personal Protective Equipment

The subject of respiratory protection and hearing protection (noise) are treated separately and are not included as part of this safety and health topic.

Personal protective equipment is specialized clothing and equipment that is designed to protect specific body systems against hazards that can cause an adverse, and sometimes irreversible, health effect.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Tab/Accordion Items

What are the hazards associated with personal protective equipment?

The lack of personal protective equipment or the use of inappropriate personal protective equipment can result in serious injury, illness or death when engineering and administrative controls have not been (fully) implemented to eliminate or reduce exposure to a particular hazard. Personal protective equipment should never be used as the primary means to control employee exposure to a hazard.

What can I do to protect myself?

Before beginning any task, ask yourself if you will be subjecting any part of your body to a hazard for which PPE is recommended or required.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Safety and Health Programs

An example PPE hazard assessment is available and can be customized to fit workplace conditions. Employers are required to perform a workplace hazard analysis to determine what personal protective equipment is necessary to protect employees from continued exposure to identified hazards. In addition, the fall protection plan are available to assist the employer in the development of applicable programs.

Training and Outreach Services

Presentations on personal protective equipment, and fall protection in construction presentation for general industry and construction provide general safety and health information on personal protective equipment and should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards.

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

A-Z Safety and Health Topics

Additional resource information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for respiratory protectionCOVID-19fall protection and noise

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for personal protective equipment in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry

Maritime, Shipyard Employment

Maritime, Marine Terminals


State-specific Standards

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Where can I learn more?

Compliance Documents

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to or by calling 919-707-7876.