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PPE in non-healthcare work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has not changed your duty as an employer to protect people in your workplace from health and safety risks. This includes making sure they are not exposed to hazardous substances as part of their work.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It includes different types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), such as respirators.

Face coverings are not PPE as they do not protect people from work-related hazardous substances. They may protect others, not the wearer, against coronavirus – find out more.

The use of face coverings as a public health protection measure in England falls under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020.

Separate regulations and guidance apply for public use of face coverings in Scotland and in Wales.

PPE for protection against coronavirus is generally only required for certain healthcare activities. In a non-clinical setting, there is no need to provide different PPE than you would normally have provided before the pandemic started.

If you have problems with the supply of your masks or other RPE, read how to work safely and manage your supplies of RPE.

Using any form of PPE is a last resort after you have assessed the risks. Find out more in our employer's guidance on your legal duties for providing PPE at work.

Page last reviewed: 12 November 2020

Next review due: 31 March 2021

Updated 2021-01-28