Does "Subpart E - Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment" Apply to You?

Subpart E provides the standards for personal protective equipment including: foot protection; electrical protective equipment; head protection; hearing protection; eye and face protection; respiratory protection; safety belts, lifelines and lanyards; and safety nets. It also includes standards for working over or near water.  

Are your employees exposed to chemicals, falling objects, fall hazards, noise, dusts, or other hazards that may require the use of personal protective equipment?  In the construction industry, this is likely yes. Many of the standards in subpart E will apply to most employers including the criteria for personal protective equipment standard which provides general criteria for personal protective equipment (PPE) including design, construction, and payment for PPE. It also includes requirements pertaining to the adequacy, proper maintenance, and sanitation of PPE owned by the employee. Note: Many OSHA standards require employers to provide personal protective equipment, when it is necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. With few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment when it is used to comply with OSHA standards. These typically include: hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, safety glasses, welding helmets and goggles, face shields, chemical protective equipment and fall protection equipment. The subpart also provides definitions applicable to this subpart that may be useful to the employer.

If your employees are required to wear PPE, then you also need to comply with the state specific standard on general safety and health provisions. This North Carolina state specific standard adds the following to paragraph (a) of personal protective equipment; "The employer is responsible for requiring the wearing of appropriate PPE (as described in the standard on personal protective equipment) in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions or where this part indicates a need for using such PPE to reduce hazards to the employees."

To identify other PPE standards that may also apply, click on the applicable tabs below.

Subpart E - Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment

Are your employees exposed to foot hazards?

Are your employees exposed to foot hazards?

Are your employees exposed to foot hazards such as protruding nails, heavy equipment, or falling objects that could cause injury? If yes, then you need to comply with the occupational foot protection standard which states "Safety-toe footwear for employees shall meet the requirements and specifications in American National Standard for Men's Safety-Toe Footwear, Z41.1-1967."

The NCDOL Library is available for assistance regarding access to consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, ASME, NFPA, IEEE). In additon, more related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics page for personal protective equipment.

Do your employees work on energized circuits and/or equipment?

Do your employees work on energized circuits and/or equipment?

If yes, then you need to comply with the electrical protective equipment standard. This standards provides requirements for rubber insulating blankets, rubber insulating matting, rubber insulating covers, rubber insulating line hose, rubber insulating gloves, and rubber insulating sleeves. It covers requirements pertaining to the manufacture and marking of rubber insulating equipment, design requirements for other types of electrical protective equipment, and in-service care and use of electrical protective equipment.

The NCDOL Library is available for assistance regarding access to consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, ASME, NFPA, IEEE). In addition, more related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topic pages for personal protective equipment and electrical safety.

Do your employees work in areas where there is a possible danger of a head injury?

Do your employees work in areas where there is a possible danger of a head injury?

Do your employees work in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns? If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on head protection. It provides that head protection must meet the specifications contained in one of the following ANSI standards for head protection:

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-2009, "American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection," incorporated by reference in §1926.6;
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-2003, "American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection," incorporated by reference in §1926.6; or
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-1997, "American National Standard for Personnel Protection-Protective Headwear for Industrial Workers-Requirements," incorporated by reference in §1926.6.

Note: In North Carolina, the state specific standard on general safety and health provisions, provides "Personal protective equipment, 1926.28(a) is amended to read as follows: "(a) The employer is responsible for requiring the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment (as described in personal protective equipment) in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions or where this part indicates the need for using such equipment to reduce the hazards to the employees."

The NCDOL Library is available for assistance regarding access to consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, ASME, NFPA, IEEE). In additon, more related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topic page for personal protective equipment

Are employees exposed to occupational noise?

Are employees exposed to occupational noise?

The hearing protection standard applies when employees are subjected to sound levels exceeding those listed in Table D-2 - Permissible Noise Exposures of the occupational noise exposure standard. The hearing protection standard also provides that ear protective devices must be fitted or determined by a competent person.

Competent person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

Are your employees exposed to sound levels exceeding those listed in Table D-2 of the occupational noise exposure standard? If yes, then you need to comply with the standards on hearing protection and occupational noise exposure.

Additional information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics pages for noise, highway work zone safety and personal protective equipment.

Are employees exposed to eye or face hazards?

Are employees exposed to eye or face hazards?

This standard applies to employees exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Are your employees exposed to eye or face hazards? If yes, then you need to comply with the eye and face protection standard. It includes general requirements (i.e., prescription eyewear, side protectors, disinfected, cleanable, durable), criteria for protective eye and face protection (references consensus standards), and protection against radiant energy.

Additional information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics page for personal protective equipment. The NCDOL Library is available for assistance regarding access to consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, ASME, NFPA, IEEE).

Are your employees exposed to harmful air contaminants?

Are your employees exposed to harmful air contaminants?

To answer this question, you may need to review safety data sheets, labels, conduct air monitoring, or gather other relevant data that can provide you with useful information regarding the hazards for the contaminant. The respiratory protection standard applies when breathing air is contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors which can cause occupational diseases. Note: An employer should evaluate the use of engineering and administrative controls to minimize air contaminant exposures. If exposure levels are above the permissible exposure limits (PELs), (or in the absence of a PEL, another recommended level), then respirators must be provided and used in accordance with an effective respiratory protection program.

If the answer to the question is yes, you need to comply with the respiratory protection standard. Note: The respiratory protection standard in construction refers to the general industry standard for respiratory protection as they are identical.

This standard applies to general industry (part 1910), shipyards (part 1915), marine terminals (part 1917), longshoring (part 1918), and construction (part 1926). This standard provides the requirements for using respirators when engineering control measures (e.g., ventilation, enclosures) are not effective in controlling air contaminants. This includes having a written respirator program, and providing for respirator selection, medical evaluations, fit testing, respirator use, maintenance and care, breathing air quality and use, identification of filters, cartridges and canisters, training and information, program evaluation, and recordkeeping (reference the standard on access to employee exposure and medical records). 

Note: Voluntary Users of Respirators - (c)(2)(i); An employer may provide respirators at the request of employees or permit employees to use their own respirators, if the employer determines that respirator use will not in itself create a hazard. If the employer determines that voluntary respirator use is permissible, they shall provide the information contained in Appendix D to the employee. In addition, the employer must establish and implement those elements of a written respiratory protection program necessary to ensure that any employee using a respirator voluntarily is medically able to use that respirator, and that the respirator is cleaned, stored, and maintained so that its use does not present a health hazard to the user.

Exception: Employers are not required to include in a written respiratory protection program those employees whose only use of respirators involves the voluntary use of filtering facepieces (dust masks).

This standard also provides definitions such as: 

Filtering facepiece (dust mask) means a negative pressure particulate respirator with a filter as an integral part of the facepiece or with the entire facepiece composed of the filtering medium. 

Air-purifying respirator means a respirator with an air-purifying filter, cartridge, or canister that removes specific air contaminants by passing ambient air through the air-purifying element. (i.e., N95)

Fit test means the use of a protocol to qualitatively or quantitatively evaluate the fit of a respirator on an individual.

Additional information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for respiratory protection, organic solventshierarchy of controlspersonal protective equipment and flammable liquids

Are your employees exposed to fall hazards?

Are your employees exposed to fall hazards?

If yes, then you need to comply with safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards as it provides requirements pertaining to lifelines, safety belts and lanyards. It provides requirements pertaining to securing the lifelines, breaking strength of rope, and specifications for hardware, 

You will also need to comply with the North Carolina state specific standard on personal protective and life saving equipment. The North Carolina state specific standard added paragraph (g) to safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards -  "(g) "Snaphooks shall be a locking type designed and used to prevent disengagement of the snaphook keeper by the connected member. Locking type snaphooks have self-closing, self-locking keepers which remain closed and locked until unlocked and pressed open for connection or disconnection." Note: This standard applies to the construction industry in North Carolina.

Lanyard - a rope, suitable for supporting one person. One end is fastened to a safety belt or harness and the other end is secured to a substantial object or a safety line.

Lifeline - a rope, suitable for supporting one person, to which a lanyard or safety belt (or harness) is attached.

Additional information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topic pages for personal protective equipment and fall protection.

Are your employees working above 25 feet?

Are your employees working above 25 feet?

Are your employees working more than 25 feet above the ground or water surface, or other surfaces where the use of ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, temporary floors, safety lines, or safety belts is impractical? If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on safety nets. It provides requirements for placement, clearance, netting mesh size, and hardware criteria.

Additional information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topic pages for personal protective equipment and fall protection.

Do your employees work on or near water?

Do your employees work on or near water?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on working over or near water. It provides requirements for life jackets and buoyant work vests, inspection of the personal protective equipment, and availability of lifesaving skiffs.

Additional information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topic page for personal protective equipment.