Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Due to the complexity of activities and work environments at the University of Washington, we offer a booklet, Guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which addresses a number of hazards associated with commonly performed indoor and outdoor tasks and the PPE that can be worn for protection.

A laboratory-specific guidance document, Laboratory PPE Hazard Assessment Guide, is available to assist Principal Investigators (PIs) and laboratory managers to identify laboratory hazards and appropriate PPE. For shops, see the Shop PPE Hazard Assessment Guide.

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.

Hazard Control

Eliminating hazards through engineering or administrative control measures is the primary and preferred methods of providing personal protection. These control methods provide better and more consistent protection than relying on PPE alone. Even if PPE will be required, it is preferable for the PPE to be used in conjunction with engineering and/or administrative controls.

Departmental Responsibilities

Each University department has the responsibility to review all employee worksites for PPE needs. The regulations, the degree of hazard, and the engineering or administrative controls that are in place will determine what PPE is needed. If departments will use PPE for personnel hazards, the following items must be completed:

  • Assess the workplace for hazards.
  • Select appropriate PPE.
  • Ensure PPE is used.
  • Establish inspection, maintenance, and replacement procedures to ensure damaged PPE is not used.
  • Train employees in proper use, limitations, care, and maintenance of PPE.
  • Document assessment, selection, and training.

When the hazard assessment indicates that PPE is required, employing departments must provide the required PPE to employees free of charge. Exceptions are prescription safety glasses and safety shoes.

Where a hazard assessment determines that no PPE is needed, simply document the assessment and you are done. However, remember that if a hazard exists which does not require PPE, other regulations or programs may still apply.


The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) in Washington Administrative Code (WAC)296-800-160 Personal Protective Equipment requires all employers to assess their work place for hazards that might require the use of personal protective equipment. If PPE must be used, the supervisor must select the proper equipment and require its use. EH&S has developed a UW policy to assure compliance and assist departments with PPE programs implementation.