Personal Protective Equipment

The subject of respiratory protection is treated separately and is not included as part of this safety and health topic.

The requirements for the selection and use of hearing protection in general industry is discussed in information and regulations regarding occupational noise.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is personal protective equipment?

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.

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?

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, respiratory protection program and hearing conservation program are also available to assist the employer in the development of applicable programs.

Presentations on personal protective equipment, noise exposure,  fall protection in construction presentation and respiratory protection 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.

Additional resource information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for respiratory protection, fall protection and noise. The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). 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 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:

General industry

Maritime, shipyard employment

Maritime, marine terminals


In addition, state-specific standards applicable to personal protective equipment include the following:

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

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.