OSHA Requires that employers control both physical and health hazards, so as to prevent employee injury and illness. The first line of defense is to use an engineering control to eliminate the hazard. When the employer has used engineering controls and the hazard still exists, then personal protective equipment (PPE) can be used.
The use of PPE requires that the employer conduct a hazard assessment to verify that the PPE selected and provided will protect the employee from the identified hazard. When the PPE selected is a respirator, then there are additional program requirements including a medical fit test and the need for a written respiratory protection program.