Course overview

The term personal protective equipment, or simply PPE, refers to a large group of products designed to protect workers from workplace hazards. PPE is used in environments in which all hazards have not been designed out of processes. A risk assessment should always be carried out before PPE is chosen and work commences.

Why is PPE important?

Making the workplace safe includes providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.
Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain. These include injuries to:
the lungs, eg from breathing in contaminated air
the head and feet, eg from falling materials
the eyes, eg from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
the skin, eg from contact with corrosive materials
the body, eg from extremes of heat or cold
PPE is needed in these cases to reduce the risk.

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 2002 place duties on employers to take reasonable steps to ensure that PPE provided to employees is properly used.
Where PPE is required, employers must also provide employees with adequate information, instruction and PPE training on its use.

The extent of information, instruction and training will vary with the complexity and performance of the kit. For example, a full Breathing Apparatus kit will require more training to use properly than a disposable face mask.

The Regulations also place the following duties on employees and self employed operatives:
PPE must be worn and used in accordance with the instructions provided to them.
PPE must be examined before use.