Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

Why use PPE?

It is important that a workplace is made safe. This includes providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.

Even when controls and systems have been put in place, hazards might remain. These include injuries to your:

  • lungs, from breathing in contaminated air
  • head and feet, from falling materials
  • eyes, from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
  • skin, from contact with corrosive materials
  • body, from extremes of heat or cold


To help reduce the risk of these things PPE is used but only as a last resort and employers must provide it free of charge.

When Selecting and Using PPE

Equipment must be chosen carefully and employees needed to be trained to use it properly, and know how to detect and report any faults.

Products should be selected in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002, look out for the CE mark.  Check with your supplier on what PPE is appropriate – explain the job to them.  If in doubt, seek further advice from a specialist adviser. Choose equipment that suits the user – consider the size, fit and weight of the PPE. If more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, make sure they can be used together without making them less effective.  All people using PPE must be instructed and trained on how to use it correctly. Employees need to know why it is needed, when to use it and what its limitations are. Never allow exemptions from wearing PPE for jobs that ‘only take a few minutes’.


PPE must be properly looked after and stored when not in use. If it is reusable it must be cleaned and kept in good condition.

Think about:

  • using the right replacement parts which match the original, e.g. respirator filters
  • keeping replacement PPE available
  • who is responsible for maintenance and how it is to be done
  • having a supply of appropriate disposable suits which are useful for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high, e.g. for visitors who need protective clothing

Employees must make proper use of PPE and report its loss or destruction or any fault in it.


  • Check regularly that PPE is used. If it isn’t, find out why not
  • Safety signs can be a useful reminder that PPE should be worn
  • Take note of any changes in equipment, materials and methods – you may need to update what you provide
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