Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment which protects those using it against health and safety risks at work. It can include: protective clothing, helmets, goggles, harnesses, footwear etc.
Every employer has a duty in regards to the provision and use of PPE at work.
Making the workplace safe includes providing employees with instructions, procedures, training and supervisions to encourage safe and responsible working. PPE contributes to a safe workplace, so it’s always going to be an integral part of running a successful and safe business.
Even when you’ve assessed your risks and put all safe systems of work into place, some hazards will still remain. These hazards can include injuries to: head and feet, eyes, lungs, body and skin; this is where PPE comes into play.
PPE should only ever be used as a last resort after putting all other controls in place.
Choose the equipment that is needed carefully; ensure that your employees are trained to use it and know how to detect and report any faults.
If you’re struggling to identify what PPE may be needed, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is exposed and to what?
- For how long are they exposed?
- To how much are they exposed?
Asking yourself these questions can help you to look at whether someone needs a hard hat, goggles, gloves or another type of protection. You must choose products which are CE marked in accordance with the PPE Regulations. CE markings demonstrate that the PPE complies with basic safety requirements; in some cases, it will have been tested and certified by an independent body. Also, choose equipment which will suit the user, then they’re more likely to be inclined to use it.
If multiple items of PPE need to be worn, ensure thy can be used together. Remember: check that the current PPE is still appropriate if anything on the job is to change.
Always instruct and train your employees on their required PPE. Explain to them why it is needed, when they need to use it and its limitations. There should never be any exemptions for the use of PPE, even on those jobs that ‘will only take a minute’. Also teach employees that PPE must be properly looked after and stored; if the PPE is reusable, it must be kept in good condition.
Obviously, there are various types of PPE to protect various different areas of the body from harm. These can include:
- Eyes: safety spectacles, goggles, face screens, face shields, visors;
- Head and neck: safety helmets, hair nets, fire fighters’ helmets;
- Ears: ear plugs, earmuffs;
- Hand and arms: gloves, gloves with a cuff, gauntlets;
- Feet and legs: safety boots/shoes;
- Lungs: Respiratory protective equipment;
- Whole body: conventional/disposable overalls, boiler suits, chemical suits
This list isn’t exhaustive; for more information on the different types of PPE, have a look at the HSE website.
As the employer, you are responsible for making sure your employees have and wear the correct PPE; you can’t ask for money from an employee for their PPE.
Employees must also take responsibility for their own safety. They must wear and use the correct PPE in accordance with the guidelines they’re given. Employees must also ensure that it’s returned to the correct place and they shouldn’t carry out maintenance to equipment unless they have been trained and authorised to do so.
If an employee refuses to wear any PPE, they are putting themselves at risk and breaching regulations, as they have an obligation to wear the PPE and keep themselves safe.
If you’re in doubt with anything in regards to PPE: what you should be wearing, your responsibilities or refusal to wear, you can get in touch with us and we’ll offer any advice that we can.