USGS Home Page

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 26

Personal Protective Equipment

26.1 Purpose.

A. To specify the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program (Program) requirements for the selection, issuance, use, maintenance and storage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

B. Scope. This chapter applies to all Department of the Interior (Department or DOI) and U.S. Geological Survey (Bureau or USGS) operations and activities. The purpose of this policy is to prescribe guidance concerning the selection, usage, and maintenance of PPE necessary to perform assigned tasks, which shall be provided at no cost, to employees and volunteers. Contractors are responsible for procuring and providing PPE to contractor personnel.

26.2 References.

A. 29 CFR 1910, Subpart I.

B. 29 CFR 1926, Subpart E.

C. 5 U.S.C. 7903, Protective Clothing and Equipment.

D. 29 CFR 1910.133, 135, 136, 137, and 138.

E. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards incorporated in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 CFR 1910. 139, 140).

F. SM 403, Requisition for Procurement of Goods and Services.

G. 351 Department Manual Para.1.7B.

H. Department of the Interior Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) Handbook.

I. SM 408.3 - Identification Clothing.

26.3 Definitions.

A. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The term shall include, but is not limited to, devices designed to be worn by personnel for eye, face, head, respiratory, hand, arm, body, leg, foot, and fall protection.

B. Oxygen Deficiency. An atmosphere that contains <19.5% of oxygen.

C. Immediate Danger to Life and/or Health (IDLH). A condition that either poses an immediate threat to life and health or an immediate threat of severe exposure to contaminants, such as radioactive materials which are likely to have an adverse delayed effects on health.

26.4 Requirements.

A. Written PPE Plan. The USGS will establish a written PPE plan that includes the following minimum requirements:

(1) Procurement of PPE to meet the specific needs of the organization at no cost to personnel.

(2) Availability of the equipment to employees when its use is needed.

(3)  Training of personnel on how to properly select, inspect, use, maintain, store, and dispose of the equipment.

(4) Proper fitting of the equipment, such as hearing protectors, respirators, and footwear.

(5) Accountability of managers, supervisors, and employees for effectively implementing the program.

(6) Appropriate medical evaluation and monitoring as applicable for personnel required to wear a respirator.

(7)  Providing PPE needed for the protection of employees from occupational hazards will be provided without cost to employees.

B. Eye Protection.

(1)  Approved devices must be worn by all personnel when working or visiting in eye hazard areas. (Industrial safety eye glasses shall meet all requirements of ANSI Standard Z87.1 1989.) Photochromic lenses will not be used for industrial safety lenses. These lenses are objectionable because of their high transmission of near ultraviolet and infrared light, their rather slow recovery time to maximum transmission of visible light, and their tendency to darken when exposed to many types of fluorescent lamps.

(2)  Contact lenses shall not be considered a substitute for approved eye protection. In some instances, contact lenses may increase the hazard to the eyes. The work environment in eye hazard areas shall be thoroughly evaluated to determine the advisability of wearing contact lenses. Contact lenses shall not be worn in environments where there are chemicals, fumes, smoke, dusts, particles, or molten metals.

(3)  Caution signs shall be posted in order to designate eye hazard areas. These signs shall require the use of eye protection before entering such areas.

(4)  Prescription safety glasses shall be purchased for employees who must wear corrective lenses and are exposed to eye hazards on a continuing basis. Goggles or face shields designated to fit over standard eye glasses may be used by employees with only occasional exposure.

C. Head Protection. Safety helmets or “hard hats” will be provided to personnel where overhead hazards exist (i.e., danger of head injuries from falling objects or other hazards). Safety helmets will be used on jobs involving construction; the moving or dumping of earth, rock and gravel; the operation of cranes; logging and clearing bush and woodlands; whenever chain saws are being used; and other similar types of work. Aviators’ protective helmets with protection for ears and temples must be worn during low level <152.4 meters (< 500') or mountainous flight missions. Fire retardant clothing must be provided and worn for low level <152.4 meters, (<500') or mountainous flight missions. Safety hats shall meet the requirements of American National Standards Institute Safety Requirements for Industrial Head Protection, Z89.1, 1986, Class A (Type I or II only).

D.  Hand Protection. The use of protective gloves is mandatory when working with or handling any materials likely to be hazardous to the hands. Barrier creams are also recommended to prevent dermatitis while working with chemicals.

E.  Foot Protection. Shall be provided for specific jobs where the need has been identified. (Safety-toe footwear shall meet the requirements and specifications in ANSI Z41.1-1991.)

F.  Leg Protection. Special equipment to prevent leg injuries will be used when and where circumstances warrant (i.e., leg chaps will be worn when chain saws are operated). Leg guards will be used for protection against snakebites when appropriate.

G.  Personal Flotation Devices, Rubber Boots, Chest Waders, and Specialized Environmental Clothing Requirements.

(1)  Equipment will be provided for stream gaging activities, refuges, laboratories, and for other activities and installations requiring them. Rubber boots should have steel toe protection.  Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) are required in all operations near, on, in, or over water except in those cases where an approved site-specific job hazard analysis (JHA) defines the conditions for an exemption. A properly fitting PFD must be worn when working near, in, on, or over water on a cableway, bridge, or water retention or control structure; on ice, in a boat, or wading streams. For work conducted in a boat, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)-approved PFD’s must be used. Additional PFD requirements for boating operations are also discussed in Chapter 31, “Watercraft Safety,” of this Handbook.

(2)  PFD’s/Suspender-Type Flotation Devices (STFD’s) must be inspected prior to and after each use and as part of the annual inspection program. Damaged, defective, or noncode PFD’s/STFD’s shall promptly be destroyed in a manner that would preclude further use or repair of the equipment.

(3)  USCG-approved Type III or Type V anti-exposure work suit or thermal system float coat PFD's help protect against hypothermia.

(4)  All PFD’s shall be international orange in color and equipped with retroreflective tape that meets the requirements of 46CFR 25.25-15 and 46 CFR 164.018. Existing PFD’s not meeting these requirements shall be replaced.

(5)  USCG-approved PFD’s shall be worn at all times aboard Class A (less than 16 feet) or Class 1 (16 to less than 26 feet) watercraft. On Class 2 (26 to less than 40 feet) or Class 3 (40 to less than 65 feet) watercraft, USCG-approved PFD’s shall be worn on any open space such as the deck and at other locations at the discretion of the watercraft operator.

(6)  USCG-approved STFD’s will have a USCG approval number and statement of use on the label.

(7)  STFD Requirements.

(a)  STFD’s must be worn as the outermost garment and with careful consideration of manufacturer’s use restrictions.

(b)  STFD’s that are not USCG-approved are acceptable for non-boating use only (e.g., wading streams, making measurements from cableways or bridges, on ice, on a water retention or control structure, and working from docks and piers).

(c) The STFD’s shall be equipped to self-inflate when the employee is immersed in water, with one exception. In low velocity conditions, if the water is too deep to use a self-inflating type STFD (because it will actuate the triggering mechanism), and a PFD cannot be used (because it will cause personnel to float and lose their footing), a manual-inflating STFD must be used. Note: STFD’s are available in the automatic (self-inflating) version and the manual-inflating ripcord version. The automatic version is equipped with a secondary system to self-inflate upon immersion in water when a fast dissolving “tablet” releases a triggering mechanism. The automatic version contains a manual-inflatingripcord for primary activation of the inflation system and an oral inflation tube as a backup system. Automatic versions without the proper USCG approval number and statement of use on the label are not USCG-approved, but are authorized by USGS for operations that do not involve boats.  The U.S. Coast Guard approved manual-inflating ripcord version without the automatictriggering mechanism is not authorized for use by USGS personnel except as noted above.

(d) The outer cover of STFD’s shall be international orange in color for boating use. The air bladder shall be international orange or yellow. The outer cover and the air bladder shall be equipped with retroreflective tape that is visible whether or not the device is inflated.

(e) STFD’s shall be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and the employees shall be trained in its operation and maintenance. Written maintenance records must be kept in each office location with copies forwarded to the respective Regional Safety Officer or Regional Safety Manager as applicable as part of the annual inspection process. Inspection of these maintenance records will be a part of safety reviews.

(8)  Inspection, Donning, Operation, and Maintenance of Flotation Devices Requirements for Life Vests (USCG Types I, II, and III).

(a) Inspection.

(i)  Inspect flotation segments of vest for cuts, loss of flotation materials, rot, or excessive sun damage to covering fabrics.

(ii)  Inspect belts, buckles, and tie tapes for proper operation and secure attachment.

(iii)  Inspect reflective patches to see they are clean and securely attached.

(b) Donning and Operation.

(i) Don vest as you would a coat or jacket. Fasten front clasps or buckles and adjust for a secure fit.

(ii) Snap lower belt or tie tapes securely around midsection.

(iii)  If necessary to jump into water, hold on to vest at front neck opening until in the water to prevent vest from riding up.

(c) Maintenance.

(i) After use, dry thoroughly before stowing.

(ii) Store in a clean dry place away from excessive heat or prolonged sunlight (do not hang it in the window of your truck).

(iii) If soiled hand wash with mild soap/water and rinse thoroughly.

(iv)  Keep all straps and buckles in good working condition.

(9)  Inspection, Donning, Operation, and Maintenance of Flotation Devices Requirements for Life Vests (USCG Types III and V).

(a) Inspection.

(i) Inspect all straps, buckles, and fabric covers for excessive wear ordamage.

(ii) Undo the Velcro tabs on the right-hand side of the collar to expose the inflator.

(iii) Unscrew and remove the CO2 gas cylinder from the inflator and inspect its small end. If it is pierced, the cylinder is empty and must be replaced with a CO2 gas cylinder of comparable size and volume recommended by the manufacturer.

(iv) Make sure the manual lever is in the up-and-ready position. Install the CO2 cylinder into the inflator by screwing until hand-tight. Do not over-tighten, as this may damage the internal gasket.

(v) Check that the oral inflation tube cap is capped and properly placed in the stowed position.

(vi) Reposition the inflator’s protective cover and refasten the chest flap. Make sure the pull-tab is hanging freely below the inflator and outside the cover.

(vii) The buoyancy cell and inflation system should be checked at least every 3 monthsand fully inflated via activation of the CO2 firing mechanism at least once annually. Refer to owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with the instructions specific to your model PFD.

(viii)  If there is any doubt about the integrity of the buoyancy cell or any part of the CO2 inflation system return the PFD to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.

(b) Donning and Operation. Warning: Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations relating to the use of STFD’s. Use another type of USCG-approved PFD if you are a nonswimmer or weak swimmer, small in stature (less than 80 lbs or shorter than 5 feet 5 inches), large in stature (with a chest girth greater than 52 inches), are working in conditions that could result in being subjected to impacts (such as falling), or will be working in conditions where the buoyancy cell could be punctured or abraded and rendered useless.

(i) Don the suspender PFD just as you would a coat or jacket. Fasten front clasps or buckles and adjust straps for proper fit.

(ii) To manually inflate the PFD, sharply pull down the pull-tab located low on the side of the vest. The CO2 gas cylinder will inflate the buoyancy cell within 5 seconds.

(iii) To inflate the PFD orally, first locate the oral inflation tube by opening the left front panel of the PFD. Remove the dust cap from the end of the tube and blow into the tube until the PFD is fully inflated.

(iv) A slight reduction of pressure will be observed after several hours of inflation. Topping up the pressure by oral inflation may be required in the event of prolonged immersion.

(v) When temperature is below freezing, the CO2 gas cylinder may not fully inflate the PFD, and periodic oral inflation may be required for additional flotation. Never orally inflate the PFD before activating the CO2 gas cylinder. This may over-pressure the buoyancy cell and damage the PFD.

(vi) To deflate the buoyancy cell, reverse the mouth-inflation tube cap and insert it into the tube valve (similar to a tire valve stem). Holding down the valve with the inverted cap will allow air to escape from the cell. Gently squeeze the cell until all air or gas has been expelled. Put the inflation tube cap back in its normal position.

(c) Maintenance.

(i) To rearm your PFD after manual inflation, simply unscrew and discard the used CO2 cylinder.

(ii) To check that the inflator mechanism is operational, pull down on the pull-tab lanyard and see if the piercing pin travels freely. Both the head and lever should easily return to their original position.

(iii) After use always rinse with tap water to remove dirt and salt. Let dry before rearming with new CO2 cylinder.

(iv) With the manual lever in the up-and-ready position, screw the new CO2 cylinder hand-tight into the inflator (reinsert indicator pin if so equipped). Do not over-tighten.

(v) Refold the PFD according to the repacking instructions that came with it.

(vi) Store in a clean, dry place away from excessive heat and/or sunlight.

(10) Inspection, Donning, Operation, and Maintenance of Automatic Inflation Suspender Type PFD (USCG Types III and V) Requirements.

(a) Inspection.

(i) Inspect all straps, buckles, and fabric covers for excessive wear or damage.

(ii) Undo the Velcro tabs on the right-hand side of the collar to expose the inflator.

(iii) Unscrew and remove the CO2 gas cylinder from the inflator and inspect its small end. If it is pierced, the cylinder is empty and must be replaced with a CO2 gas cylinder of comparable size and volume recommended bythe manufacturer.

(iv) Make sure the manual lever is in the up-and ready position. Install the CO2 cylinder into the inflator by screwing until hand-tight. Do not over-tighten as this may damage the internal gasket.

(v) The auto capsule is part of the inflator. Important: Ensure that the capsule has not been fired inadvertently by examining the red plug in the threaded end of the capsule. If it has been pushed out and you cannot push it back in, the capsule has been activated. It must not be used, and a new capsule must be obtained.

(vi) Make sure the CO2 cylinder and automatic capsule are screwed hand-tight into the inflator. Do not over-tighten.

(vii) Check that the oral inflation tube is capped and properly placed in the stowed position.

(viii)  The buoyancy cell and inflation system should be checked at least every 3 months, and fully inflated via activation of the CO2 firing mechanism at least once annually.

(ix) If there is any doubt about the integrity of the buoyancy cell or any part of the CO2 inflation system return the PFD to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.

(b) Donning and Operation. Warning: Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations relating to the use of STFD’s. Use another type of USCG-approved PFD if you are a non-swimmer or weak swimmer, small in stature (less than 80 lbs or shorter than 5 feet 5 inches), large in stature (with a chest girth greater than 52 inches), are working in conditions that could result in being subjected to impacts (such as falling), or will be working in conditions where the buoyancy cell could be punctured or abraded and rendered useless.

(i) Don the suspender PFD just as you would a coat or jacket. Fasten the front clasps or buckles and adjust straps for a proper fit.

(ii) The secondary system will automatically inflate the PFD within seconds after the inflator is immersed in water if the wearer is unconscious or otherwise unable to manually inflate the PFD. The spool of paper inside the auto capsule will disintegrate, triggering a spring-loaded plunger that punctures the CO2 cylinder to inflate the buoyancy cell.

(iii) Manual inflation is the primary system and can be activated by the wearer in the same manner described for the manual inflating PFD.

(iv) Oral inflation is the same as described for the manually inflated PFD.

(v) Warning: Under normal conditions, automatic inflation models should not be worn inflated. In the event of immersion subsequent discharge of the CO2 system will cause over-pressurization and possible damage to the buoyancy cell.

(c) Maintenance.

(i) Maintenance for the automatic inflating PFD will be the same as the manually inflated model except for checking and replacing the auto capsule.

(ii) Refer to the owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions for operation and maintenance of your specific model PFD.

(11) Inspection, Donning, Operation, and Maintenance of Float Coat or Jacket Type PFD (USCG Type III) Requirements.

(a) Inspection.

(i) Inspect float coats and jackets for rips, tears, cuts, broken zippers, torn beaver tails, and properly secured reflective patches.

(ii) Make sure that foam inner linings are not separated at the seams.

(iii) Make sure hoods (if applicable) are securely attached.

(iv) Inspect cuffs for proper fit and closure.

(v) Inspect to see that the coat fits the user properly. Coats that are too tight will not provide designed thermal protection. Coats that are too big will not provide designed flotation.

(b) Donning and Operation.

(i) Don float coat or jacket as usual. Coats equipped with beaver tails (waterproof segment that goes from jacket back, between legs and attaches to front of garment) should have the tails securely attached in front when in use as a PFD.

(ii) Coats should be zipped up for maximum thermal protection and flotation.

(c) Maintenance.

(i) Hang float coat or jacket on a hanger to drip dry. Do not wring water from the coat or twist the coat material to remove water. This can tear the foam inner lining. Do not put coats in the dryer.

(ii) Never dry your PFD on a radiator, heater, or any other direct heat source.

(iii) Hand wash with mild soap and water if soiled. Rinse the coat thoroughly. Do not dry clean.

(iv) Store your float coat in a well ventilated, dry place away from excessive heat or sunlight. Do not hang it in the window of your vehicle.

(v) Do not have your coat or jacket altered. Alteration may affect the PFD's performance. If it does not fit properly, get one that does.

(12)  Inspection, Donning, Operation, and Maintenance of Suit Type PFD (USCG Type V) Requirements. The inspection, donning, operation, and maintenance procedures for anti-exposure or immersion suits vary significantly depending on the style and construction of the suit selected. Please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions supplied with the specific model suit to be used.

(13)  Inspection, Donning, Operation, and Maintenance of Throwable Devices (USCG Type IV) Requirements.

(a) Throwable devices include flotation cushions, rings, and horseshoes. Inspect all devices for loss of flotation materials, cuts, fabric deterioration, and loose or abraded straps.

(b) Hard foam rings should be checked for weather checkering or cracks that may cause the ring to collapse under use.

(c) Flotation cushions should be checked to see that both the outer fabric and inner lining are secure and waterproof.

(d) All devices should be stored in a location that is easily accessible in an emergency.

(e) All personnel should be trained and have practiced use of the devices.

H. Respiratory Protection Equipment. See Chapter 18 of this Handbook and Appendix 18-1, Selection Guide for Respiratory Protection based upon the type of hazard encountered.

I. Other Protective Equipment may be furnished when the items are -

- "special" - used only temporarily or infrequently and assigned for use by different employees (rather than issued for use by a single employee) and
- primarily used for the Government's benefit to safely and successfully accomplish the work rather than the employees comfort or convenience.

This authority does not extend to clothing items the employee would also purchase for personal outdoor use, such as hats, gloves, bathing suits, coats, or umbrellas, unless they

- are required to have special safety features not found in personal clothing, or
- are required for weather conditions more severe than encountered at the employee's duty station (such as heavy winter parkas for work in the Arctic by employees from mild-weather locales).

Although the USGS generally may not purchase raingear, mission requirements may call for our personnel to conduct fieldwork in inclement weather in locations requiring high visibility clothing/ markings, such as on bridges or in roadside rights of way. For such conditions, raingear that meets color and reflective material requirements of relevant state, local or other federal agencies may be stocked and issued as needed.

Supervisors and organizational management should determine appropriate protective clothing or equipment needed for a given work environment and may approve other PPE not discussed in this chapter, as long as it meets the above tests or has been determined necessary by an approved site-specific job hazard analysis (JHA).

Note that PPE procured under the scope of this chapter, if intended to carry a USGS identifier or logo shall meet the requirements of SM 408.3 - Identification Clothing.

J. Penalties for Failure to Observe Safety Practices. The DOI Handbook on Charges and Penalty Selection for Disciplinary and Adverse Actions, Part 3, Table of Penalties, details subject information. For purposes of this document, the failure to wear a personal flotation device as prescribed in the USGS policy is considered an offense and could be subject to the penalties listed below:

(1)  Nature of Offense. Failure to observe safety practices, including failure to use safety equipment such as seat belts, eye protection devices, and protective hearing devices.

(2)  First Offense. Written reprimand to dismissal.

(3)  Subsequent Offenses. Five-day suspension to dismissal

(4)  Possible Charges. Failure to observe safety practices, carelessness, endangering oneself, engaging in unsafe work practices.

26.5 Responsibilities.

A. Bureau Safety Manager/Industrial Hygienist.

(1) Reviews, updates, and coordinates changes to this chapter.

(2) Serves as a technical advisor for the Bureau concerning PPE.

(3) Monitors the Program and recommends enhancements, as appropriate.

B.Regional Safety Manager.

(1) Provides assistance to Regional Safety Officers and CDSPC’s and Environmental Program Coordinators in the proper selection, maintenance, and use of PPE.

(2) Serves as regional technical advisor, providing direction and oversight on PPE matters.

C. Regional Executives. Provide appropriate funding for the purchase and maintenance of PPE.

D. Regional Safety Officer.

(1) Provides assistance to regional science program CDSPC’s and Environmental Program Coordinators in the proper selection, maintenance, and use of PPE.

(2) Serves as regional science program technical advisors on PPE matters.

E. Organizational Managers and Supervisors.

(1) Consult with Regional Safety Officer or Regional Safety Manager as applicable to insure proper selection of PPE.

(2) Provide employee awareness and training regarding the proper usage of PPE, to include proper fit, limitations, and maintenance of equipment.

F. Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators (CDSPC’s).

(1) Assist organizational managers and supervisors in the proper PPE procurement, selection, training, maintenance, and use. See Appendix 26-1, Suggested PPE for Operations/Tasks to facilitate meeting this requirement.

(2) Conduct annual reviews of the PPE program locally to determine compliance and forecast future needs.

G. Personnel.

(1) Wear/use all necessary PPE that is required in the performance of duties.

(2) Undergo PPE training and education programs applicable to the type of PPE issued or provided.

(3) Maintain personally issued PPE.


SM 445-2-H Table of Contents || Handbooks || Survey Manual Home Page
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/handbook/hb/445-2-h/ch26.html
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Content Information Contact: wrmiller@usgs.gov
Last modification: 14-Sep-2012@17:14 (kk)