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OSHA 30: Subpart E Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment

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Note: In a previous article that was posted on December 14, 2016, we gave an overview of OSHA’s 30 hour training course. You can read that article here:

The OSHA 30 hour Construction Industry Training course covers a number of specific topics. However, there are certain topics that OSHA may require contractors to complete extra training on based on the industry that the person participating is associated with.

Contact your local OSHA office to determine whether you are required to participate in extra training as part of the OSHA 30 hour Construction Industry Training course. More information can be found at

While many will say that OSHA has too many regulations and that they are often not always easy to decipher, the fact remains that OSHA’s standards are designed to insure the safety of workers. One of the most important parts of OSHA 30 training’s extra training program is Subpart E Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment.


Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes articles such as eye, face, head and extremity protection;, protective clothing; respiratory devices; protective shields; and barriers for mechanical, chemical, radiological or other workplace environmental hazards. Employers must provide and require their employees to use protective equipment wherever necessary to prevent injury or impairment. Safety equipment must meet the specifications for design as stated in the applicable American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) documents. Employers are responsible for maintaining protective equipment, including employee-owned equipment, in a sanitary and reliable condition.

Key Provisions:

Head Protection: Protective helmets (hard hats) must be worn by employees who work in areas where there is a possibility of head injury from impact, falling or flying objects, or electricity.

Hearing Protection: Hearing protection must be worn when noise levels cannot be reduced by engineering or other means.

Eye and Face Protection: Eye and face protection must be used to protect against physical, chemical, or radiation agents. Protection must be reasonably comfortable, fit snugly, and not unduly interfere with employee movement. Protection against radiant energy (UV light) and other hazards requires filter lens shades of 2 to 4 for soldering and brazing, 7 to 9 for gas welding, and 9 to 12 for arc welding. Protection for laser light must provide protection for the specific wavelength of energy.

Respiratory Protection: Employers must have a written plan for procedures to select and use respirators. Respirators must be regularly cleaned and disinfected, stored properly, and inspected. Users must be properly trained in selection, use, and maintenance of respirators. Respirators must fit properly. Only MSHA or NIOSH approved respirators may be used. Supplied air must be of high purity. The proper form of air must be supplied, for example, compressed oxygen may not be used in supplied-air respirators and oxygen must not be used with air line respirators. Compressors for supplying air must have safety and standby devices. Employers must develop standard procedures for respirator selection, use and care. Emergency procedures must also be developed. Employers must specify the correct respirator for each job. Written procedures must be prepared to cover use of respirators in dangerous atmospheres. Where there is a toxic or oxygen-deficient atmosphere, at least one additional man must be present and communications must be maintained between all individuals present. Standby men must be present with rescue equipment where there are atmospheres immediately dangerous to life or health. When air line respirators are used in atmospheres immediately hazardous to life or health, person must be equipped with safety harnesses and safety lines. Respirators must be frequently and randomly inspected. They must be maintained and cared for through a program including inspection, cleaning and disinfecting, repair, and proper storage. Records must be kept of inspections of emergency use respirators. Gas mask canisters must be labeled and color coded.

Safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards. If safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards have been used for in-service loading, they must immediately be removed for service in employee safeguarding.

Safety nets. Safety nets must be provided if workplaces are higher than 25 feet above the surface and ladders, scaffolds or other safety equipment is impractical.

Workers over or near water. Life jackets or buoyant work vests must be provided to employees where the danger of drowning exists. These must be inspected for defects before and after each use. Ring buoys must be no more than 200 feet apart and available for emergency rescue operations. A lifesaving skiff must also be available where employees work over or near water.

Most Frequently Cited Serious Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Violations:

  1. Failure to provide and use proper head protective equipment.
  2. Lack of proper eye or face protection.
  3. The lack of safety nets for fall hazards of more than 25 feet.
  4. Workers not using serviceable PPE when exposed to hazards that could cause serious injuries; not using personal floatation equipment when working over or near deep water; and not using properly approved respiratory protective equipment.

Effective Control Measures That Can Be Used for These Serious Hazards:

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the more common control measures used, and the equipment must be maintained in serviceable condition and replaced when no longer useable.

  1. Employers must establish a policy of what PPE is to be used by their employees for various jobs and to instruct their workers on the proper care and use of PPE. Each worker needs to wear their hard hat when potentially exposed to falling objects and eye protection needs to be worn.
  2. As part of the employer’s safety and health program, a hazard survey of the work needs to be done to determine what control measures to use where hazards cannot be eliminated. This survey can serve as a resource as to which type of PPE needs to be used by workers so as to minimize injury or illness exposure.
  3. The PPE used needs to be the proper type that provides the necessary protection for the worker from the hazards found in the survey. Only NIOSH approved respirator protective devices are acceptable to OSHA for respiratory hazards. All personal floatation devices must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard to be acceptable to OSHA for those workers doing jobs over deep water or next to deep water hazards.

Where personal fall arrest equipment is not practical for all workers who are exposed to fall hazards over 25 feet, safety nets become the backup protection to protect all who work above the net. This is typically done in bridge construction work and high rise buildings.

Ruben Porras

Posted In: Safety

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