All PPE clothing and equipment should be of safe design and construction, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. Employers should take the fit and comfort of PPE into consideration when selecting appropriate items for their workplace. PPE that fits well and is comfortable to wear will encourage employee use of PPE. Most protective devices are available in multiple sizes and care should be taken to select the proper size for each employee. If several different types of PPE are worn together, make sure they are compatible. If PPE does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed. It may not provide the level of protection desired and may discourage employee use.
OSHA requires that many categories of PPE meet or be equivalent to standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI has been preparing safety standards since the 1920s, when the first safety standard was approved to protect the heads and eyes of industrial workers. Employers who need to provide PPE in the categories listed below must make certain that any new equipment procured meets the cited ANSI standard. Existing PPE stocks must meet the ANSI standard in effect at the time of its manufacture or provide protection equivalent to PPE manufactured to the ANSI criteria. Employers should inform employees who provide their own PPE of the employer’s selection decisions and ensure that any employee-owned PPE used in the workplace conforms to the employer’s criteria, based on the hazard assessment, OSHA requirements and ANSI standards. OSHA requires PPE to meet the following ANSI standards:
– Eye and Face Protection: ANSI Z87.1-1989 (USA Standard for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection).
– Head Protection: ANSI Z89.1-1986.
– Foot Protection: ANSI Z41.1-1991.
For hand protection, there is no ANSI standard for gloves but OSHA recommends that selection be based upon the tasks to be performed and the performance and construction characteristics of the glove material. For protection against chemicals, glove selection must be based on the chemicals encountered, the chemical resistance and the physical properties of the glove material.