Personal protective equipment (PPE)

25 August 2021

Personal protective equipment is equipment and clothing that protects against health or safety risks at work.


Examples include safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, hearing protection, harnesses and footwear.

It is considered a last resort to protect staff where risks cannot be adequately controlled in other ways. This is because it is often the last line of defence against someone being harmed.  It also relies upon the equipment working properly, being used correctly, and being properly maintained. That said, sometimes its use is a necessity.

Although PPE is most commonly associated with environments where workers are exposed to high levels of dust, noise, or hazardous substances, there are many work activities where people may need it to complete a task safely. Examples include some types of maintenance, healthcare and catering work.

You may need to:

  • provide suitable PPE for staff where necessary
  • assess the suitability of any PPE before use, making sure it is fit for purpose
  • provide staff with instructions on how to use it safely
  • make sure that it is used correctly
  • ensure that it is properly maintained and stored
  • document your arrangements for using PPE, keeping certain records.

Read more about managing the use of PPE.