The University of Alabama, Division of Finance and Operations

Personal Protective Equipment Policy

Unit:  Environmental Health and Safety
Contact: BJ Diltz
Title:  Environmental Safety Manager
Effective Date: 03/27/2023
Revision Date: 03/27/2023



This policy is intended to prevent harm to faculty, staff, students, contractors, and guests involved in activities that may result in illness/injury if proper precautions are not taken. This policy outlines the minimum requirements for all members and guests of the University of Alabama ("University"). Individual departments or divisions may have additional or more stringent guidelines.



It is the policy of the University that all faculty, staff, students, and guests involved in activities that may result in illness/injury, shall be equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the face, eyes, head, extremities, and respiratory system, as outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Standards ("OSHA") (29 CFR 1910.132). PPE is defined by OSHA as “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses." Injuries and illnesses can result from workplace hazards, such as contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, or mechanical hazards. The need for PPE varies and is dependent upon the type of process and the nature and quantity of the materials in use.  An assessment must be conducted on a case-by-case basis to determine the need for PPE. PPE may include but is not limited to, items such as gloves, safety glasses or goggles, specific/specialized shoes, earplugs, hard hats, respirators, coveralls, and other protective clothing or equipment.

When it is deemed necessary by reason of hazards in the processes or the environment, PPE, along with protective clothing, shields, and/or barriers shall be provided, used, and maintained in a clean, sanitary, and reliable condition. The use of PPE should not excuse the obligation to reasonably reduce or eliminate hazards at the source, either by engineering design, the substitution of non-hazardous materials, or other methods. The use of PPE does not reduce or eliminate the hazard, as it only provides protection to individuals wearing PPE and does not protect others nearby. Using PPE should be considered a last defense and is only to be used when elimination, substitution, engineering, or work practice controls are not feasible.

Some locations on campus, such as laboratories, have minimum PPE requirements for individuals entering or occupying the space. For instance, appropriate gloves, safety glasses/goggles, long pants, sleeved shirts, and closed-toed shoes, with hair pulled back and secured, are always required in laboratories. Additionally, lab coats are required when hazardous materials are in use.

Supervisors, principal investigators, directors, managers and instructors are responsible for the implementation, management, and enforcement of all regulations regarding the use of PPE. Individuals required to perform specific jobs, tasks, or assignments within areas where PPE is required must adhere to this policy.

PPE issued by the University shall remain the property of the University. However, individuals receiving the PPE shall be responsible for the proper care and safekeeping of all equipment issued to them. Defective or damaged PPE shall not be worn or used, and individuals should contact EHS to discuss the replacement of damaged/destroyed or missing/lost PPE. The University is not responsible for the replacement cost for any PPE that is lost or intentionally damaged by employees. Additionally, OSHA standards (§1910.132) may not require the University to supply or pay for certain PPE or equipment. 

No person shall engage in activities or work that may result in illness/injury without the necessary PPE under any circumstances. All persons subject to this policy are responsible for complying with this policy, as well as department-specific rules or guidelines/policies. Individuals using PPE must demonstrate good PPE practices and operate with an understanding of the limitations associated with the PPE. Additionally, those subject to this policy shall complete all required training sessions related to the use, care, maintenance, and disposal of PPE. Questions or concerns regarding PPE should be directed to EHS at 205-348-5905. 

Eye and/or Face Protection

The University will provide eye or face protection for all employees and students who are required by the nature of their job or course to perform certain duties or functions that could cause injury to the face or loss of vision.

Design, construction, testing, and use of devices for eye and face protection will be in accordance with current or recent guidance outlined by the American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices (Z87.1). Most eyeglasses do not meet the American National Standards Institute's ("ANSI") standards and are not an acceptable form of eye protection. Safety glasses that meet the ANSI standards should have “Z87” stamped on the frame of the glasses.

In general, the intent is to protect individuals from any splashing liquids, molten metals or sparks, chemicals, injurious radiant energy, and projectiles. Signs indicating “Eye Protection Required” shall be prominently displayed in areas requiring eye protection. The type of personal eye and face protection will vary according to the type of potential exposure present.  Safety glasses must have side shields when there is a possibility of objects striking the eyes. However, safety glasses may not always provide adequate protection from chemical splashes as they do not seal the face. In this case, chemical splash goggles with indirect ventilation should be worn. In the case of lasers or other types of injurious light radiation, specific safety eyewear is selected for the hazard (type/wavelength). For assistance in the selection of proper eye protection, contact EHS.

Contact lenses shall not be used in lieu of approved safety glasses. Additionally, individuals who wear prescription eyewear must wear protective devices designed to be worn over regular prescription eyewear (such as goggles designed to be worn over eyewear) or alternatively, wear prescription safety glasses. Prescription safety glasses are at the expense of the individual. 

Face shields are not primary eye protection and can only be used in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles. Face shields are worn in operations where the entire face needs protection, normally against flying particles, metal sparks, or chemical or biological splashes.

The following is a partial list to serve as a guide in determining the type of jobs or situations in which eye and/or face protection may be required. Contact EHS to discuss the proper selection of eye or face protection.
  • Handling Chemical or Biological Agents
  • Operating Portable Power Tools
  • Grinding
  • Soldering
  • Welding
  • Chipping
  • Using Compressed Air
  • Spraying Paint or Chemicals
  • Working in Animal Rooms
  • Working in areas where projectile hazards are present.
  • Working in a laser lab that, by nature of the laser, requires specific eyewear.

Head Protection

The University will provide appropriate head protection/protective helmets for all employees and students who are required by their job or course to perform certain duties or functions that could cause illness/injury to the head.  In general, the intent is to provide protection from impact or penetration from falling objects, flying objects, striking against low-hanging objects, and from limited burn, shock, and electrical hazards. Helmets will meet the requirements and specifications established in the current, or most recent, American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection (ANSI Z89.1).

Prevention of falling or flying objects shall be accomplished as reasonably feasible by accepted engineering control measures. The use of protective helmets should never be viewed as a substitute for good safety practices.

Industrial hardhats should not only reduce the amount of force from an impact of blows to the head, but should also serve as insulators against electric shocks, be water resistant and slow burning, and shield the scalp, face, neck, and shoulders. Helmets are designated by both the Type (based on the location of impact force) and Class (based on electrical insulation), as well as any other optional features. Contact EHS to review user recommendation information pertaining to different types and classes of industrial head protection.

ANSI Z89.1 does not cover bump caps, firefighting helmets, or head protection devices used in recreational activities. 

Hand Protection

The University will provide appropriate hand protection for all employees and students who are required by the nature of their job or course to perform certain duties or functions that could cause illness/injury to the hands. In general, the intent is to provide protection to the hands during exposures to potential hazards such as sharp objects, abrasive surfaces, temperature extremes, and chemical, biological, or radiological contact. Gloves are selected based on performance characteristics such as design, condition, and duration of use. Additionally, glove selection is based upon glove material as it must appropriately protect from the identified hazard. In all cases, gloves must be evaluated and replaced by the user when they become damaged or contaminated. For more information related to glove selection, contact EHS.

Foot Protection

In general, the intent is to provide protection to the feet and toes during exposure to hazards such as falling or rolling objects, chemical or liquid exposures, piercing objects through the sole or uppers, or where the individual’s feet are exposed to electrical hazards.
  • Safety shoes or boots must meet the current ASTM F2413-05 or ANSI Z41 standards when required for an employee or student responsible for carrying or handling materials, objects, parts, or heavy tools that, if dropped, could injure the feet, or items that could roll over the feet.
  • Safety shoes with special non-conductive and insulating soles are required when electrical hazards are present.
  • Puncture-resistant soles are required for safety shoes or boots when puncture hazards are present.
  • In the case of a wet working environment, rubber boots are required if the feet will remain wet or contact with chemical or biological hazards.
Open-toe shoes (sandals) are prohibited while working in a laboratory space or other hazardous areas.

Protective Clothing

In general, protective clothing is worn to prevent injury from chemical hazards, biological hazards, radioactive materials, electrical hazards, heat, sparks, impact and cut hazards.  Protective clothing types vary and are dependent upon the type of process and the nature and quantity of the materials in use. Examples of protective clothing include, but are not limited to, laboratory coats, coveralls, aprons, and flame-resistant clothing. Protective clothing must be worn correctly (e.g., properly fastened, zipped, and/or tied, with sleeves and pant legs worn down) for safety. In many cases, protective clothing must be maintained according to specified standards outlined by the clothing manufacturer. For example, flame-resistant clothing must be reviewed and repaired only with flame-resistant materials, and may also require laundering at specific water temperatures and other specifications. Contact EHS for more information regarding protective clothing, including lab coats.

Respiratory Protection

The University will provide respiratory protection for all employees and students who are required by the nature of their job or course to perform certain duties or functions that could cause illness/injury caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors. Proper selection of respirators shall be made according to the guidance outlined in the American National Standard Practices of Respiratory Protection (Z88.2). Anyone required to wear a respirator due to the nature of their job or course must be included in the Respiratory Safety Program implemented and managed by EHS. This includes the required use of N95 respirators and other forms of respiratory protection. A medical evaluation to determine clearance for the use of the respirator is a fundamental part of respiratory protection, along with the resulting fit test and training associated with the respirator. For more information related to Respiratory Protection, see the EHS website for related guidance documents or contact EHS.


The University will provide training to employees and students required to wear and use PPE. Training will include topics such as how to properly don (put on), doff (remove), adjust, and wear PPE, along with proper care, maintenance, and useful life and disposal of the PPE. Additionally, limitations of the PPE will be reviewed, as well as how to determine when PPE is necessary. In regard to laboratory spaces, it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator or laboratory supervisor to ensure laboratory staff have received appropriate training on the selection and use of proper PPE.


To request an evaluation of a new workplace or process to determine if hazards are likely to be present that necessitate the use of PPE, contact EHS.   


Failure to comply with the requirements specified in this policy may expose the University to fines and other penalties. Additionally, employees or students failing to comply with the requirements of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for employees.



This policy applies to faculty, staff, and students. PPE use is also required by Contractors and guests performing work on campus who may encounter workplace hazards that require PPE as prescribed in OSHA’s PPE Standard (29 CFR 1910.132).

Office of the Vice President of Finance and Operations

Approved by Cheryl Mowdy, Assistant Vice President for Finance and Operations, 03/27/2023