Personal Protective Equipment - PPE

PPE is defined as 'all equipment which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to their health or safety', for example:

  • Safety helmets
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • High visibility clothing
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Safety footwear
  • Harnesses

The main requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (PPE) are:

Provision of personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment is to be supplied by employers and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways. Because the effectiveness of PPE can be easily compromised, for example, by not being worn properly, it should always be considered as a last resort and used only where other precautions cannot adequately reduce the risk of injury.

Compatibility of personal protective equipment

Where more than one item of equipment is required to control the various risks employers and the self-employed person must ensure it is compatible.

Assessment of personal protective equipment

Before choosing any PPE the employer or self-employed person must make an assessment to determine whether the proposed PPE is suitable. This assessment of risk is necessary as no PPE provides 100% protection a 100% of the time for example, it may fail in operation, it may not be worn correctly or it may not be worn at all.

Maintenance and replacement of personal protective equipment

All PPE is required to be maintained, replaced or cleaned as appropriate.

Accommodation for personal protective equipment

Appropriate accommodation must be provided by the employer or self-employed when the PPE is not being used.

Information, instruction and training

An employer who provides PPE must give adequate and appropriate information, instruction and training to enable those required to use it to know the risks the PPE will avoid or limit and the purpose, manner of use and action required by the employee to ensure the PPE remains in a fit state, working order, good repair and hygienic condition.

Use of personal protective equipment

Every employer providing PPE must take all reasonable steps to ensure it is properly used. Every employee provided with PPE is required to use it in accordance with the training and instruction given by the employer. All reasonable steps should be taken to ensure the PPE is returned to the accommodation provided for it after use.

Reporting loss or defect

Employees provided with PPE are required to report any loss or defect to their employer.


  1. Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (LEGUK)
  2. L25: Personal Protective Equipment at Work - Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations – Guidance on Regulations (HSE)
  3. HSG: Respiratory Protective Equipment - The Selection, Use and Maintenance (HSE)
  4. INDG 174: A Short Guide to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (HSE)
  5. INDG 330: Selecting Protective Gloves for Work with Chemicals: Guidance for Employers and Health and Safety Specialist (HSE)