Using personal protective equipment (PPE) to control risks at work

3. Selection and use

Before you select PPE, think about:

  • who is exposed
  • what they are exposed to
  • how long are they exposed for
  • how much are they exposed to

By involving your workers when selecting PPE, they will be more likely to understand its importance and use it.

Selecting PPE

Check with your supplier on what PPE is appropriate – explain the job to them.

If in doubt, seek further advice from a specialist adviser. Choose products which are CE or UKCA marked.

Select equipment that suits the worker – consider the size, fit, compatibility and weight of the PPE and the physical characteristics of the user. Modifying PPE to fit is not a suitable solution.

For example, coveralls that don’t fit correctly could increase the risk of entanglement if sleeves are too long.

For some PPE, such as harnesses or lifejackets, choosing the right size is particularly critical to ensure they fit properly and need to do so to protect against fatal hazards.

Once you have selected PPE, you must provide this for your workers free of charge.

There is guidance on different types of PPE.

Using PPE

If more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, make sure they can be used together. For example, wearing safety glasses may disturb the seal of a respirator, causing air leaks.

Choose hard hats and ear defenders carefully to make sure they can be worn together and are both effective.

Instruct and train people how to use PPE, for example train people to remove gloves without contaminating their skin. Tell them why PPE is needed, when to use it and what its limitations are.

If your risk assessment shows PPE is needed for a task, it should always be used, even for those jobs that ’only take a few minutes‘.

Updated 2022-04-05