Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The purpose of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) program is to protect researchers, employees, students, and visitors from potential hazards in the work environment. However, eliminating hazards through engineering or administrative controls provides better and more consistent protection than relying on PPE alone. If PPE is necessary, it is best used with engineering and/or administrative controls along with good work practices.

A key element of the program includes a thorough hazard assessment of activities, processes and work areas to determine the nature and degree of hazards, determination of the engineering and administrative controls that are in place and relevant regulations. When the hazard assessment indicates that PPE is required, departments must select and provide PPE that properly fits employees. 

The program applies to all University organizational units at all locations including the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma Campuses; UW Medical Centers, University owned property; University leased space; and temporary field locations under the control of University operations staff. The program covers hazard protection for the eyes, face, head, hands, feet, whole body and drowning. PPE for respiratory, hearing, elevated work, electrical, and welding are covered by other programs, but shall be documented in the hazard assessment for PPE.

What you need to know

What you can do to stay safe

Services Available

EH&S provides the following services:

  • Advise in use of the hazard assessment guidelines
  • Advise on specific PPE
  • Identify engineering and administrative controls.

If you need assistance in identifying engineering or administrative controls or in selecting PPE for a hazard or activity, contact EH&S at 206.543.7388.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

EH&S recommends that eye protection always be worn when working in the laboratory, and especially when working with chemicals. Prescription safety glasses are available from optical stores. Do not use regular glasses as safety glasses; they are not strong enough. Wear safety glasses that fit over regular glasses. Avoid use of contact lenses in the laboratory. If you wear contact lenses, notify the PI or laboratory supervisor and always wear chemical splash goggles or a face shield.

Clothing, such as long pants and long skirts, should cover your legs to protect you from spills, splashes and burns. Shoes should fully cover the feet to protect against spills; no open-toed shoes or sandals are permitted, and shoes constructed of mesh (such as athletic shoes) are not recommended.

More Information


changing how or when workers do their jobs, such as scheduling work and rotating workers to reduce exposures

using controls such as chemical fume hoods to work with chemicals, installing physical barriers to control a mechanical hazard, and physically changing a machine or work environment

includes equipment such as safety glasses, goggles, face shields, gloves, hard hats, safety shoes, respirators and hearing protectors

training workers how to perform tasks in ways that reduce their exposure to workplace hazards


Environmental Health & Safety Department

(206) 543-7262