In some industry sectors, employee’s may require Personal Protective Equipment (or PPE) to carry out their job’s safely – due to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations of 1992, it is the Employers duty to ensure the provision of personal protective equipment, as well as ensuring that:

  • The equipment is regularly assessed to ensure it is suitable for use, and not showing any signs of dangerous wear and tear.
  • That the equipment is correctly maintained and stored between usages
  • That employees have access to any instructions for use, and are properly trained in the correct usage of any PPE that has been supplied to them and are aware of why they need to be wearing it.
  • That there are always replacement items of PPE available if needed.

Employee’s cannot be charged for the provision of Personal Protective Equipment, whether they are expected to return it after a contract ends or not, this also includes any agency workers if they are legally accepted as your employees. The main exception to this is if employment has been terminated and the employee keeps any PPE that has been provided to them without the employers consent, at which point, so long as it is clearly stated in the contract of employment, the employer may be able to recover the costs of replacing the PPE from any money’s owed to the employee.

To make sure that you get the right PPE for your business you will need to carefully assess the different hazards in your working environment. Many suppliers will be only too happy to help advise you on the best PPE for your situation, making sure that you get the right grade of PPE for your situation and that will be compatible with other items that your employees are needing to use.

There are several other considerations to think about when choosing your PPE – for instance:

  • Will it help control, or prevent the risks involved in the job without increasing the overall levels of risk to the employee.
  • Will the wearing of the PPE impact on the user during the task they are doing (ie, is it heavy, does it restrict movement, will it be worn for long periods of time)
  • Will the state of health of the employees wearing it be effected, could it aggravate existing conditions (ie does the employee have asthma and will wearing a mask effect their ability to breath easily)
  • Can you adjust the item so that it correctly fits the employee.

Below is a short list of the type of hazards you may have in your workplace, and the suggested PPE that could be provided to help minimize any health and safety issues – this list is by no means exhaustive and specialist advice should be sort if you are unsure of the PPE you need.

Head :

  • Possible Hazards – Risk of impact to head either from flying, falling or protruding objects, risk of hair becoming entangled in machinery, levels of noise.
  • PPE Options – Hard Hats, Helmets, ear muffs, ear plugs, and “bump caps”

Eyes :

  • Possible Hazards – Chemical Splash, Metal shards, dust, projectiles, gases and vapours, Radiation, Light damage.
  • PPE Options – Safety goggles, Safety Glasses, Faceshields, visors (tinted or plain).

Breathing :

  • Possible Hazards – Gases or Vapour, Dust, Oxygen- Deficient atmospheres
  • PPE Options – Disposable face mask with either a filter or a respirator, Full or half-face respirators, air-fed helmets, breathing apparatus including oxygen tanks.

Trunk of Body :

  • Possible Hazards – Extremes of temperatures, Bad weather, chemical splash, Metal splash, Spray (either from burst pressure pipes or spraying apperatus), Impact, Penetration, Contaminated dust, possibility of entanglement of clothing, excessive wear to personal clothing.
  • PPE Options – Overalls (either disposable or standard), boiler suits, other specialist protective clothing such as Chain mail, body plates, High Vis clothing.

Arms/Hands :

  • Possible Hazards – Extremes of temperatures, Bad weather, chemical splash, Metal splash, Spray, Impact, Penetration, Contaminated dust, Cuts or punctures, electric shock, skin infection, disease.
  • PPE Options – Gloves, gauntlets, wrist cuffs, armlets, mitts.

Legs/Feet :

  • Possible Hazards – Extremes of temperatures, Bad weather, chemical splash, Metal splash, Spray, Impact, Penetration, Contaminated dust, Cuts or punctures, electrostatic build-up, skin infection, disease.
  • PPE OptionsSafety shoes/boots (including steel toe-caps and penetration-resistant mid-soles), leggings, high vis trousers, spats, gaiters, waders.

The provision of Personal Protective Equipment can save your company a fortune in health and safety related claims if something goes wrong.