Employers have duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work and the leaflet explains what you need to do to meet the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended).
What is PPE?
PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets and hard hats, 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 there are other more specific regulations that 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 under road traffic legislation. The Employment Act 1989 gives an exemption for turban-wearing Sikhs working on construction sites from the need to wear head protection.
What do the Regulations require?
PPE should be used as a last resort. Wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 require PPE to be supplied.
The Regulations also require that PPE is:
- properly assessed before use to make sure it is fit for purpose;
- maintained and stored properly;
- provided with instructions on how to use it safely;
- used correctly by employees.
- Health and Safety Executive Personal protective equipment (PPE) at work
Assessing Suitable PPE
To make sure the right type of PPE is chosen, consider the different hazards in the workplace and identify the PPE that will provide adequate protection against them; this may be different for each job. Ask your supplier for advice on the types of PPE available and their suitability for different tasks. In some cases, you may need to get advice from specialists or from the PPE manufacturer.
Another useful source of information is the British Safety Industry Federation (www. bsif.co.uk).
Consider the following when assessing suitability:
- Does the PPE protect the wearer from the risks and take account of the environmental conditions where the task is taking place? For example eye protection designed to protect against agricultural pesticides may not offer adequate protection when using an angle grinder to cut steel or stone.
- Does using PPE increase the overall level of risk or add new risks, eg by making communication more difficult?
- Can it be adjusted to fit the wearer correctly?
- 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 or the requirements for visibility and communication.
- If someone wears more than one item of PPE, are they compatible? For example does using a respirator make it difficult to fit eye protection properly?
Selection and use When selecting PPE:
- choose good quality products which are CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 – suppliers can advise you;
- choose equipment that suits the wearer – consider the size, fit and weight; you may need to consider the health of the wearer, eg if equipment is very heavy, or wearers have pre-existing health issues, standard PPE may not be suitable;
- let users help choose it, they will be more likely to use it.
Using and distributing PPE to your employers:
- instruct and train people how to use it;
- tell them why it is needed, when to use it and what its limitations are;
- never allow exemptions for those jobs that ‘only take a few minutes’;
- if something changes on the job, check the PPE is still appropriate – speak with your supplier, explaining the job to them;
- if in doubt, seek further advice from a specialist adviser.
Please Note – This article ‘Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence’.