Employers must protect workers from health and safety risks. This means they must provide PPE free of charge if a risk assessment shows it is needed.
To stay safe, workers may have to wear PPE such as safety helmets, gloves, eye or hearing protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and harnesses.
PPE also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to prevent workers breathing in dust, mist, gas or fume.
When to use PPE
Employers must do a risk assessment. Some hazards may still remain after engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied. PPE may then be needed to reduce the risk of injury from:
- breathing in dust, mist, gas or fume
- falling materials hitting people
- flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids getting into people’s eyes
- skin contact with corrosive materials
- excessive noise
- extremes of heat or cold
What the law says
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 place duties on employers to ensure 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 workers
Employers must ensure workers have sufficient information, instruction and training on PPE use.
Duties regarding PPE were extended on 6 April 2022 to include PPE for limb (b) workers. There is guidance explaining the changes.
If you provide PPE, you should ensure it complies with product supply legislation.