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Personal protective equipment (PPE) basics

Employers  are responsible for providing, replacing and paying for personal  protective equipment.

PPE should be used when all other measures are  inadequate  to control  exposure.

It protects only the wearer, while being worn.

If it fails, PPE offers no  protection at all.

Types of PPE

When deciding about  PPE  ask the supplier, your trade association or the manufacturer…

  • Is it suitable for the conditions of the job?
  • Does it offer the right level of protection?
  • What sort of training or maintenance is required?
  • How do I know when it needs replacing?

It is important that employees  know why they need PPE and are trained to use it correctly. Otherwise it is unlikely to protect as required.

  • Does it fit correctly?
  • How does the wearer feel? Is it comfortable?
  • Are all items of PPE compatible?
  • Does PPE interfere with the job being done?
  • Does PPE  introduce another health risk, eg overheating, entanglement with machinery?
  • If PPE needs maintenance or cleaning, how is it done?

When employees find PPE comfortable they are far more likely to wear it.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

See also the guide to choosing a protective glove.

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