Understanding guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential to ensure worker safety in manufacturing, warehouse, and industrial facilities. OSHA requires that several categories of personal protective equipment meet or exceed certain standards, but often defers to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) when it comes to developing and setting those standards for facility safety. The employer must provide PPE, ensure that employees are properly and adequately trained on equipment use, and enforce compliance throughout the workplace. Follow these guidelines for PPE requirements and use to keep your employees safe.

Required PPE in Manufacturing, Warehouse & Industrial Facilities

Some classes of personal protective equipment will be required in most warehouse, manufacturing, and industrial facilities due to the nature of these environments. Safety clothing—including compliant footwear, helmets, gloves, eyewear, and hearing protection—can protect workers from the majority of hazards they will encounter while on the job. Here, we break down the different types of PPE and offer a brief overview of the requirements for each, as outlined by OSHA and ANSI. 

Protective Footwear

Protective footwear is required in workplaces where there is a risk of foot injury, whether from falling or rolling objects, electrical hazards, or sharp objects that could pierce the sole. Compliant footwear is labeled according to the performance requirements it meets as follows¹:

  • Resistance to impact (I or Mt)
  • Compression resistance (C)
  • Shock resistance (EH)
  • Puncture resistance (PR)
  • Protection against conductive hazards (Cd)
  • Reduction of the accumulation of excess static electricity (SD)

The best protective footwear for a warehouse, manufacturing environment, or other industrial facility depends on each environment and will likely offer some combination of these listed characteristics.

Helmets and Hard Hats

Helmets or hard hats are commonly required PPE on construction sites, in warehouse and manufacturing environments, and in other industrial facilities—anywhere there is possible danger of injury from impact, from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shocks or burns. Head protection is categorized by location of impact force and level of electrical insulation and should resist penetration, deflect blows, and absorb shock to protect the top (Type I) or sides and top (Type II) of the head. A special class of helmet is required where there is risk of electrical shock or burns—either a Class G (up to 2200 volts) or Class E (up to 22,000 volts).²

Protective Gloves

Gloves protect hands from a variety of mechanical and chemical hazards, including abrasions, punctures, chemicals, and thermal risk. However, the main consideration in industrial environments is cuts: ANSI/ISEA 105-2016³ outlines nine different ratings to address a range of resistance levels as measured in grams. A1 gloves are most appropriate for small parts assembly or in warehouses for packaging, while stronger ratings may be required for the manufacturing of glass and metal or in recycling and sorting areas. Consider both the rating and the grams of resistance when choosing which gloves offer the best protection.

Safety Eyewear and Goggles

Protective goggles or glasses may be required depending on the type of environment and materials with which you will be working, especially in manufacturing facilities. According to ANSI Z87.1-2015⁴, protective eyewear must undergo significant testing to show that it provides adequate protection against impact, heat, optical radiation, dust, and chemical or liquid splash. Deciding between safety goggles or glasses comes down to the type of hazard: Liquid chemicals, corrosive vapors, and the potential for high-velocity debris all necessitate the use of 360-degree eye protection.

Hearing Protection

Hearing protection devices, such as earplugs or earmuffs, reduce noise levels and prevent hearing loss in occupations where there is significant noise exposure. According to OSHA⁵, protection is required when noise levels average 85 decibels or more over an 8-hour workday, or when noise levels may spike above 115 decibels, even for a short duration (such as around specific machinery). 

Other PPE for Specialized Applications

Additional PPE may be needed to improve employee safety in specialized fields or environments. While some are required by OSHA and ANSI, others are optional but can expand or improve an employer’s approach to safety in the workplace

  • High-Visibility Vests: High-visibility vests enhance worker safety in low-light conditions and heavy traffic areas.⁶ While most classes of high-visibility vests are applicable in areas near roadways, Type O vests hold some relevance in warehouses and industrial facilities: These vests are designed to heighten daytime and nighttime visibility in environments that pose potential hazards from moving vehicles, equipment, and machinery—think parking lots, loading docks, warehouses, or equipment storage areas.
  • Harnesses & Fall Protection: Required fall protection equipment in general industry environments may include harnesses, lanyards, and lifelines to be worn or used when working at heights above certain thresholds—for example, on elevated platforms in factories or warehouses. When used with other methods of preventing slips and falls, personal fall protection equipment as required by OSHA⁷ will significantly increase worker safety.
  • Headlamps: While not specifically required by OSHA or ANSI, headlamps with proper illumination and battery life may be necessary in workplaces with low-light conditions, confined spaces, or during nighttime operations. Headlamps can also increase visibility when making repairs to complicated machines.

Employers must ensure that all PPE meets the relevant OSHA and ANSI standards, whether it’s provided by the workplace or supplied by the employee. Pair compliant PPE with strategically placed reminder signage and regular, comprehensive training to ensure optimal prevention of workplace hazards. For more on efficiency, effectiveness, and safety in industrial workplaces, explore our Resource Center

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It is crucial to verify all standards and regulations independently to ensure accurate compliance in your specific context.

Sources:
¹OSHA 29 CFR 1910.136, ²https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.136
³https://www.hardheadveterans.com/blogs/reviews/the-ansi-z89-1-standard-for-hard-hats-construction-helmets-a-guide
⁴ANSI/ISEA 105-2016, https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2017/06/01/ANSI-ISEA-105-2016-Regulation-Updates.aspx?Page=1
⁵ANSI Z87.1-2015, https://www.anbusafety.com/ansi-z87-1-safety-glasses-standards/
⁶OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95, https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.95
⁷ANSI/ISEA 107-2015, https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/638577O/ansi-107-2020-made-easier-high-visibility-apparel.pdf
⁸OSHA 29 CFR 1910.140, https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.140