PPE (Personal protective equipment) is an equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
It is considered as the last line of defense; when all the control fails, it will be our last line of defense.
The purpose of personal protective equipment is to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering controls and administrative controls are not feasible or effective to reduce these risks to acceptable levels. PPE is needed when there are hazards present. It has the serious limitation that it does not eliminate the hazard at the source and may result in employees being exposed to the hazard if the equipment fails.
It is the duty of the employer to provide personal protective equipment to his employee; it is their legal obligation.
Detail examples of PPE
- Hearing protective devices, such as ear muffs and ear plugs
- Respiratory protective equipment
- Eye and face protection, such as safety glasses and face shields
- Safety helmets
- Fall arrest harnesses for working at heights
- Skin protection, such as gloves, gauntlets and sunscreen
- Clothing, such as high visibility vests, life jackets and coveralls
- Footwear, such as safety boots and rubber boots. Etc.
Qualities of a good PPE
- All personal protective equipment should be safely designed and constructed, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion.
- It should fit comfortably, encouraging worker use. If the personal protective equipment does not fit properly it should make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed.
- When engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, it should offer cover.
Personal Protective Equipment Regulation
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. These regulations seek to ensure that where the risks cannot be controlled by other means, Personal Protective Equipment is correctly selected and used.
The Regulations do not apply where requirements are detailed in other regulations e.g. respirators in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH).
When must PPE be used
The fundamental principle is that personal protective equipment should only be used as a last resort. The safety and health of employees must be first safeguarded by measures to eliminate workplace risks at source, through technical or organisational means (e.g by substituting hazardous chemical ) or by providing protection on a collective basis (e.g providing scaffolding instead of harnesses). Collective protective measures covering numbers of employees in a workplace must have priority over protective measures applying to individual employees. If these measures are not sufficient, only then should PPE be used to protect against the hazards that are unavoidable.
- Choice must be suitable for the job and hazard identified
- It must be comfortable for use
- Must consider the impact of the environment on the PPE