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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Health & Safety Management Standard
Issue 3 (November 2015)
This document contains corporate standards and guidance on the provision and use of
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during work activities. It is the responsibility of
managers to ensure that Personal Protective Equipment is supplied, used and maintained
where there is a risk of injury to employees and that all aspects of PPE are managed in
line with this document in any area under their control.
This document must be read in conjunction with any additional guidance specific to
divisional issues or activities.
Manager’s Checklist – Personal Protective Equipment
The checklist given below identifies key actions involved in the selection, use and
maintenance of Personal Protective Equipment. Further information on each of these
points is contained in this document.
1. Where a risk assessment identifies the need for PPE has it been provided?
2. Is PPE readily available?
3. Is replacement PPE readily available?
4. Can different items of PPE be worn without impeding the effectiveness of each other?
5. Has a PPE Suitability Risk Assessment been completed to ensure that the correct
PPE has been provided?
6. Is PPE maintained in efficient working order and good repair?
7. Has provision been made for the safe storage of PPE?
8. Has information, instruction and training been given to the user(s) of PPE?
9. Is there a system in place for reporting of loss or defect?
10. Have employees been briefed on their responsibilities?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – MS – Issue 3 (October 2015)
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What is Personal Protective Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE as it is commonly referred to, is anything that is
worn, held or used for the protection of a person’s health and safety. PPE does not include
uniforms that are provided for the primary purpose of presenting a corporate image or
ordinary working clothes. Waterproof, weatherproof or insulated clothing is considered to
be PPE if it is worn to protect the employee against risks to health and safety, but not
When must Personal Protective Equipment be used
It is the requirement of Health and Safety law that the employer must identify and assess
risks to health and safety in the workplace, thus enabling the appropriate means to be
used to reduce the risks to an acceptable level, in other words carry out a risk assessment.
There is in effect a hierarchy of control measures where engineering methods and safe
systems of work must be used ahead of the wearing of PPE to control the risks that have
been identified. In some situations the risk can be fully controlled by engineering methods
and safe systems of work and this is what must be done. However in many cases PPE will
still have to be worn by the employee to adequately control the risk.
Provision of Personal Protective Equipment
PPE must be suitable for the tasks and protect the user from the hazards and risks
identified. The PPE must be “readily available”. This means that new or replacement PPE
must be easily obtained at the workplace either from stores or a stockroom. It is also
acceptable for the PPE to be obtained from a supplier providing the user of the PPE is not
left unprotected. There must be clear instructions on where and how PPE is obtained.
Usually PPE is provided on a personal basis but in certain circumstances items of PPE
may be shared by employees, for example where the PPE is required for limited periods,
such as a face shield when carrying out welding. The law also states that PPE cannot be
charged for.
Compatibility of Personal Protective Equipment
If there is more than one risk to health and safety that makes it necessary for the
employee to wear more than one item of PPE at the same time, all the items of PPE must
be compatible. This means that items of PPE must not impede the effectiveness of other
PPE that is being worn. As an example, if the employee has to wear a safety helmet, ear
defenders and safety goggles at the same time, it could prove difficult if three items of PPE
were to be worn. Instead, a combined helmet, ear defender and visor unit should be used.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – MS – Issue 3 (October 2015)
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Assessment of Personal Protective Equipment
The Risk Assessment of a task or operation will usually identify the need to wear PPE to
protect the employee(s) against any residual risk that remains after other control measures
have been put in place. To ensure that the correct PPE is worn, used or held a “PPE
Suitability Risk Assessment” must be completed (see Corporate Safety Manual).
The PPE Suitability Risk Assessment will:
• Ensure that the correct PPE is provided for the task;
• Tailor PPE requirements to particular trade groups, teams or individuals;
• Identify the parts of the body to be protected;
• Identify particular hazards associated with those parts of the body;
• Identify the type of PPE required to control each hazard;
• Identify the expected performance or standard of the PPE required to control each
• Identify the PPE specified/selected and its level of performance or standard;
• Require managers to confirm that the PPE selected/issued is suitable.
In assessing whether PPE is suitable, the manager must consider:
• If it is appropriate for the risks involved and conditions in the workplace;
• If it prevents or adequately controls the risks involved without increasing the overall
level of risk;
• If it is suitable to the wearer, e.g. does it fit or can it be adjusted to fit;
• If it fits the needs of the job and any demands placed on the wearer, including any
health condition the wearer may have;
• If it is compatible with other items of PPE that need to be worn.
Maintenance of Personal Protective Equipment
All PPE provided to employees must be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working
order and in good repair. This means that effective systems must be in place to ensure
that the PPE continues to give the level of protection it was designed for.
Maintenance means the following:
• The PPE is kept clean and where appropriate disinfected;
• The PPE is repaired when appropriate; or,
• The PPE is replaced when necessary;
• The PPE is examined where required;
• The PPE is tested where required.
It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure an effective maintenance scheme is in place
with written details of the procedures and frequency laid down. Where appropriate, records
of tests and examinations should be kept. Maintenance programmes will vary depending
on the type of equipment and the use to which it is put. In effect there are formal
maintenance systems such as schemes involving fall arrest equipment and harnesses,
and, informal systems where PPE such as gloves, goggles and safety helmets are
checked by the user prior to use.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – MS – Issue 3 (October 2015)
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Accommodation and Storage
Managers must ensure that PPE is stored correctly when not in use so that it is kept clean
and less likely to be damaged. In a workshop situation this could mean a locker or coat
hook for clothing, in a mobile situation a suitable container or place within a vehicle should
be allocated. Storage must be suitable to prevent damage, contamination or loss.
Where quantities of PPE are stored there must be separate areas for new and equipment
awaiting repair.
Information, Instruction and Training
Where the risk assessment identifies the need for PPE to be worn, used or held by an
employee the manager must make sure that the employee receives the appropriate
information, instruction and training on how to use the PPE correctly. Effective information,
instruction and training should cover:
The risks to health and safety that the PPE will avoid or limit;
The purpose and manner in which the PPE is to be used;
Any action required by the employee to ensure that the PPE remains in a good
working order and repair;
Confirmation from the employee that they understand what is required from them.
Where appropriate, training should include practical training on:
Putting on, removing and wearing of the PPE;
Practice and instruction in the inspection and where appropriate, testing of the PPE
before use;
Practice and instruction in the maintenance which can be done by the user, such as
cleaning and the replacement of certain components;
Instruction in the safe storage of the equipment.
Reporting Loss or Defect
The manager must make sure that there is a system and/or arrangements in place for
employees to report the loss or defect of PPE.
Employee Responsibilities
Employees have a duty in law to look after their own health and safety and that of others
and so must do the following:
Wear the appropriate PPE when required;
Wear the PPE in the way that it was meant;
Look after the PPE;
Store the PPE in a safe manner;
Report any loss or defect;
Follow the requirements of the PPE “Employee Information Sheet”.
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