The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE) (or The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993) 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 or her against one or more risks to his or her health or safety', e.g., 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.
The main requirement of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (or The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993) 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 Personal Protective Equipment:
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.
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 whose website can be accessed below.
Consider the following when assessing whether PPE is suitable:
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.
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, e.g. chain-mail aprons, high-visibility clothing.
Hazards: abrasion, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures, impact, chemicals, electric shock, skin infection, disease or contamination.
Options: gloves, gauntlets, mitts, wristcuffs, armlets.
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.
Make sure of the following:
Make sure equipment is:
Ensure any PPE you buy is 'CE' marked and complies with the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. The CE marking signifies that the PPE satisfies certain basic safety requirements and in some cases will have been tested and certified by an independent body.
The PPE at Work Regulations do not apply where the following six sets of regulations require the provision and use of PPE against these hazards. For example, gloves used to prevent dangerous chemicals penetrating the skin would be covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (or Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (as amended)). The regulations are:
Are there ways (other than PPE) in which the risk can be adequately controlled, e.g., engineering controls? If not, check that PPE is offered and if it is that: