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About PPE (personal protective equipment)




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Employers have basic duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. In most instances these are covered by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended).

What Is PPE?

PPE is defined in the regulations as 'all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health or safety', eg safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety harnesses and safety footwear.

Hearing protection and respiratory protective equipment provided for most work situations are not covered by these Regulations because other regulations apply to them.

Requirements of the Regulations:

The main requirement of the PPE at Work Regulations 1992 is that personal protective equipment is to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways.

The Regulations also require that PPE:

  • is properly assessed before use to ensure that it is suitable;
  • is maintained and stored properly;
  • is provided with instructions on how to use it safely; and
  • is used correctly by employees.

Suitability of PPE:

Consider the following when assessing whether PPE is suitable:

  • Is it appropriate for the risks involved and the conditions at the place where exposure to risk may occur?
  • Does it prevent or adequately control the risks involved without increasing the overall level of risk?
  • Can it be adjusted to fit the wearer correctly?
  • Has the state of health of those who will be wearing it been taken into account?
  • What are the needs of the job and the demands it places on the wearer? For example, the length of time the PPE needs to be worn, the physical effort required to do the job and the requirements for visibility and communication.
  • If more than one item of PPE is being worn, are they compatible?

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Source: HSE guidance. The above is for information purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice.


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