A short guide to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work

A short guide to the
Personal Protective Equipment
at Work
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 footwear and safety harnesses.
Hearing protection and respiratory protective equipment provided for most
work situations are not covered by these Regulations because other
regulations apply to them. However, these items need to be compatible with
any other PPE provided.
Cycle helmets or crash helmets worn by employees on the roads are not
covered by the Regulations. Motorcycle helmets are legally required for
motorcyclists under road traffic legislation.
What do the Regulations require?
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 it is suitable;
_ is maintained and stored properly;
_ is provided with instructions on how to use it safely; and
_ is used correctly by employees.
Can I charge for providing PPE?
An employer cannot ask for money from an employee for PPE, whether it is
returnable or not. This includes agency workers if they are legally regarded as your employees. If employment has been terminated and the employee keeps the PPE without the employer’s permission, then, as long as it has been made clear in the contract of employment, the employer may be able to deduct the cost of the replacement from any wages owed.
Assessing suitable PPE
To allow the right type of PPE to be chosen, carefully consider the different hazards in the workplace. This will enable you to assess which types of PPE are suitable to protect against the hazard and for the job to be done.
Ask your supplier for advice on the different types of PPE available and how
suitable they are for different tasks. It may be necessary in a few particularly difficult
cases to obtain advice from specialist sources and from the PPE manufacturer.
Another useful source of information is the British Safety Industry Federation
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 the risk may occur? For example, eye protection designed for providing protection against agricultural pesticides will not offer adequate face protection for someone using an angle grinder to cut steel or stone.
_ 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? For example, does a particular type of respirator make it difficult to get eye protection to fit properly?
The hazards and types of PPE
Hazards: chemical or metal splash, dust, projectiles, gas and vapour, radiation.
Options: safety spectacles, goggles, faceshields, visors.
Hazards: impact from falling or flying objects, risk of head bumping, hair entanglement.
Options: a range of helmets and bump caps.
Hazards: dust, vapour, gas, oxygen-deficient atmospheres.
Options: disposable filtering facepiece or respirator, half- or full-face respirators, air-fed helmets, breathing apparatus.
Protecting the body
Hazards:temperature extremes, adverse weather, chemical or metal splash, spray from pressure leaks or spray guns, impact or penetration, contaminated dust,excessive wear or entanglement of own clothing.
Options: conventional or disposable overalls, boiler suits, specialist protective clothing, eg chain-mail aprons, high-visibility clothing.
Hands and arms
Hazards:abrasion, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures, impact, chemicals,electric shock, skin infection, disease or contamination.
Options:gloves, gauntlets, mitts, wristcuffs, armlets.
Feet and legs
Hazards: wet, electrostatic build-up, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects,metal and chemical splash, abrasion.
Options: safety boots and shoes with protective toe caps and penetration-resistant mid-sole, gaiters, leggings, spats.