Industrial Hygiene

 Personal Protective Equipment

Last Updated: December 06, 2023
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When engineering or administrative controls are not feasible, personal protective equipment can be used to protect workers. PPE is utilized only when hazards cannot be eliminated or reduced with engineering and administrative controls as demonstrated by the Hierarchy of Controls:


PPE includes, but is not limited to: hearing protection, eye protection, protective clothing, respiratory protection, safety shoes/boots, gloves, helmets, body armor and uniforms


​Role of Army IH in PPE:

Army IH is often involved with the identification of hazards present in a workplace, which dictates what PPE must be used. IH Programs  can assist in the selection of appropriate PPE.  Army IH programs can also provide employees with information on the proper maintenance, handling, and training regarding PPE.

Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers:

The Army follows current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. The following are some specific CDC links

Choosing the Right Mask

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N95*, KN95 
or similarly constructed

N95, KN95 Masks
  • ​AKA filtering face piece respirators or tight fitting respirator
    • KN95 is manufactured to international standards
    *N95 is the preferred choice
  • ​​​Can be required in workplaces for hazard control
  • ​​General Use: Can be used by the public to help protect against diseases
  • Good for high risk situations (e.g., in a small space with many people, on mass transit, with others who are ill)​


Medical Masks

Disposable Medical Mask

  • ​​​ ​​​AKA “procedural or medical mask”
  • Should be at least 2 or 3 layers
  • More layers are more protective
  • FDA-approved masks can be used in medical workplaces
  • Can be used by the public for protection against diseases
  • Good for medium risk situations (e.g., in a larger space with people)
  • Can be used with cloth mask (on top or under) to improve fit for medical masks​



Cloth Mask

  • ​​​​Often 2 layers, can be more, may​ have filter added to it​​
  • Better than no mask
  • ​​​​General Use: Can wear until visibly soiled, or damaged
  • Wash at least once a day or as soon​ as they become dirty

No Mask, No Protection

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    No Protec​tion

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​​​BE AWARE there are known issues with counterfeit N95 and KN95 masks being sold. This web-page​ External Link has information about purchasing masks.​


  • ​Do not wear if it's hard to breathe or you feel faint or light headed
  • Facial hair makes it hard for any mask to fit well
  • Do not touch the part that you will be breathing through—handle by loops, ties, edges​​

Best Practices for Wearing an N95​External Link

Other References regarding PPE for Healthcare Workers:

U.S. Marines Resource

Army Regulations and Websites:

Federal Regulations and Guidance:

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