Effective safety protection is a federal requirement, so there’s no question that your company needs to comply with related OSHA rules. But above and beyond legal compliance, good safety is good business. And most importantly, it’s the right thing to do – as you strive to send your employees home at the end of their shifts the same way they arrived: safe and injury free.

  • Enforcing safety rules saves time and money – about $4 for every dollar spent, according to OSHA. It’s a significant contributor to improved productivity and reduced worker injury, illness and workers’ compensation costs.

Personal protective and life-saving equipment are critical to your effective workplace safety program. All such equipment must be of safe design and construction and maintained in a consistent, reliable fashion. Equipment must:

  • Fit well. This can mean the difference between safe coverage and dangerous exposure.
  • Be comfortable to wear. This encourages regular use and improves compliance rates.

When engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible for providing sufficient protection, employers must supply PPE and life-saving equipment to workers and ensure its proper use. In addition, every worker is required to know:

  • When and where personal protective or life-saving equipment is necessary.
  • The specific type of equipment required.
  • How to properly put it on, adjust it, wear it and take it off.
  • Any limitations on the equipment.
  • Proper equipment care, maintenance, useful life and disposal.

OSHA requires that many equipment categories meet or be equivalent to standards developed by the American National Standards Initiative (ANSI).

Eyes and Head

  • Preserving vision: All workers must wear eye protection appropriate to their work area and duties. Employees with corrective lenses must wear eye protection that incorporates their prescription into its design or wear additional protection over their glasses.
  • Headgear must have a protective outer shell and shock-absorbing lining. Hard hats range from Class A through Class C depending on their level of impact and penetration resistance.


  • Footwear must meet ANSI minimum compression and impact performance standards. A protective toe is required.
  • Protecting the legs: Lower limb protection options include leggings, metatarsal guards, toe guards, combination foot/shin guards and safety shoes.
  • Gloves: Employees must wear gloves specifically designed for hazards and tasks. Gloves may be fabric or fabric coated, leather, aluminized, aramid fiber, plastic or synthetic.

Body Protection

  • Workers who face possible bodily injuries from hot splashes, temperature extremes or other hazards must wear suits made from materials including paper-like fiber, treated wool or cotton, duck, leather, rubber, neoprene or plastic.

Hearing Protection

  • The louder the nose, the shorter the exposure time before hearing protection is required. Employees may be exposed to a noise level of 90 dB for eight hours a day before needing PPE. But if a noise level reaches 115 dB, hearing protection is required if anticipated exposure exceeds 15 minutes.

Life Saving Equipment

Personal flotation devices must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and marked for use as a work vest, for commercial use or for use on vessels.

  • Life buoys with attached lines are mandated when work is being performed on floating vessels. Specific requirements vary according to the size of the vessel.
  • At least one portable or permanent ladder also is required in the vicinity of each floating vessel on which work is being performed.

For more specific information on PPE and life-saving equipment, visit OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov. Or, contact the safety, HR and workforce management experts at Premium Staffing for related guidance and assistance.

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