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Construction PPE Standards

Quick Tips #242

The use of construction personal protective equipment (PPE) specifically required by OSHA 29 CFR 1926 can be found in Subpart E, personal protection and lifesaving equipment. The general requirements for PPE can be found in this subpart; other PPE standards can be found in Part 1926 for woodworking tools, asbestos, excavation and more.

This document will address eight of the codes from Subpart E.

1926.95 - General Construction PPE Standards

Protective equipment must be provided, used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition. PPE refers to many different protective devices, but this standard specifically talks about eye, face, head and extremity protection.

Even though it is not required by this standard, a hazard assessment should be conducted of all work areas so that proper protective equipment can be selected. When choosing PPE, you should consider such hazards as heat, impact, chemicals, compression, electrical, light/radiation, punctures and dust. See Quick Tips #192: Hazard Assessment Form.

1926.96 - Foot Protection

Footwear must comply with the ANSI's Z41 standard. You can usually find the "ANSI Z41" imprint inside the shoe. This standard specifies impact and compression tests with which the footwear must comply. To meet ANSI standards, the protection must be an integral part of the shoe. Using removable toe caps or covers is not allowed in areas where it has been determined that foot protection is required.

For more details on ANSI/ASTM protective footwear requirements, refer to Quick Tips #252: Protective Footwear Standards.

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Head protection must be provided whenever there is a possible danger of head injury due to falling or flying objects, impact, electrical shock or burns. This headgear must comply with ANSI Z89.2, which stipulates testing for type A, B and C helmets. Choose the right type of helmet based on whether you need just impact protection (class C), or both impact and electrical protection (classes A and B).

For testing requirements to meet class A, B and C head protection, refer to Quick Tips #241: Hard Hat Requirements.

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1926.101 - Hearing Protection

In determining noise exposure, you must first refer to table D-2, "Permissible Noise Exposure," in 1926.52. If you are exceeding the noise exposures indicated in this section, hearing protection is required.

When an employee is exposed to a 90dB time-weighted average (TWA) and engineering out noise levels is not feasible, hearing protection must be provided. Plain cotton ear plugs are not allowed, and any ear protective device inserted in the ear must be fitted by a competent person.

Hearing protection can be in the form of ear plugs or earmuffs. When selecting the proper type, look at the noise reduction rating (NRR) assigned to the protective device and observe the actual noise level at the job site. This will help you determine which hearing protection device is best for your application. For example, if your employees have an eight-hour time-weighted exposure of 100dB, they need a hearing protector with an NRR of at least 11dB. This will get them below the 90dB rating found in table D-2.

Check out a full selection of hearing protection products.

1926.102 - Eye and Face Protection

Eye and face protection is evaluated based on several types of exposure. Consideration must be given to impact, chemical splash, glare, heat, ultra-violet or laser rays, etc. Protective eyewear must also be reasonably comfortable, fit snugly, be easy to clean and disinfect, and comply with the ANSI Z87.1 impact standard.

When selecting eyewear for radiant energy and laser safety, refer to table E-2, "Lens Shade Numbers" and table E-3, "Laser Safety Glass." These tables will help you select the proper shade and optical density for several applications.

For more information on protective eyewear, see Quick Tips #125: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements - Eye & Face Protection.

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1926.103 - Respiratory Protection

This standard follows the same format as the general industry standards found in 1910.134. For more information see:

Quick Tips #140: Respirator Fit Testing Requirements and Procedures
Quick Tips #195: Starting a Respiratory Protection Program
Quick Tips #275: Types of Respirators

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1926.104 - Safety Belts, Lifelines and Lanyards

Most details of fall protection can be found under Subpart M 1926.500, "Floor and Wall Openings." 1926.104 covers the specifics of anchorage, test requirements, required material for manufacturing of belts, lifelines and lanyards, and load testing.

When looking for equipment that meets or exceeds requirements in this section, look for ANSI-rated equipment. The ANSI ratings that you will find are:


ANSI A10.14, Fall Protective Devices
ANSI A14.3, Ladder Safety Systems


You will also find reference to ANSI Z359.1, harnesses and lanyards, which is stricter than the A10.14. However, the A10.14 is the general guideline used for fall protective devices.

One main point of this standard states that, if any of the fall protective equipment is subjected to a fall, it must be immediately removed from service and not used again. It also states that fall arrest systems should allow for a fall of no greater than 6'.

For more information on fall protection devices, click here for Quick Tips #130: Fall Protection Equipment.

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1926.105 - Safety Nets

When working more than 25' above the ground or water surface, and using a ladder, safety line, scaffold, platform or temporary floor is impractical, use of safety nets is allowed. These nets must extend 8' beyond the edge of the work surface and be installed as close under the work surface as practical, but can not exceed 25'. The nets must meet or exceed ANSI A10.11-1989, standard on Personal and Debris Nets. This guideline stipulates mesh size, impact resistance and breaking strength.

1926.106 - Working Over or Near Water


Commonly Asked Questions
Q.   If both eye and face protection are required, can just a face shield be used?
A.   No. If it has been determined that eye and face protection are required, a face shield can not be used alone. Face shields are considered secondary protection. Glasses or goggles also need to be worn as primary protection for the eyes.
Q.   Can a body harness or lanyard be used on a person that weighs 350 lbs.?
A.   If you have an individual who weighs more than this, heavyweight body harnesses and lanyards are available.
Q.   Who must pay for construction PPE?
A.   If PPE is required for your job, the employer is responsible for purchase. The exception to this would be if the product (such as footwear) can be used by the individual outside of work. In this case the cost is generally shared.
Q.   Am I required to do a hazard assessment similiar to what general industry requires?
A.   Not at the present time, but this may change soon because OSHA is considering adopting the general industry requirements for PPE into the construction section. However, it's still a good idea to complete an assessment so that proper protection can be selected for your employees.

ANSI A10.14 Fall Protective Devices

ANSI A14.3 Ladder Safety Systems


OSHA 29 CFR 1926

(Rev. 2/2014)

Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at

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Please Note:
The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

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