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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work

This section explains your obligations for providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees and different types of PPE available.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work, this can include items such as

  • safety helmets
  • ear protection
  • high visibility clothing
  • safety footwear and safety harnesses
  • thermal, weather and waterproof clothing
  • respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

As an employer, it is important that you understand your responsibilities and take steps to keep your workers and members of the public safe. 

You will need to know what PPE you need to provide and what training you need to provide to employees to ensure that they use it correctly.

As an employee, you will need to understand your responsibilities for the use, storage and maintenance of your own PPE.

  1. PPE legislation
  2. When do I need to provide PPE
  3. Training, maintenance and storage of PPE
  4. Types of PPE

3. Training, maintenance and storage of PPE

Information, Instruction and Training (IIT) on PPE usage 

When PPE is provided it’s required that all employees receive the correct information, instructions and training on its use and show how the equipment should be maintained, cleaned and disposed of.

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

In addition to initial training, refresher training may be required from time to time.

Supervisor checks on the use of the PPE may help determine when refresher training is needed.

You can use this form to create a record of the induction and training programme for staff who are new to their job

View or create a record of the induction and training programme

What should PPE information and instruction cover?

  • The risks present and why PPE is needed.
  • The operation (including a demonstration), performance and limitations of the equipment.
  • Use and storage (including how to put it on, how to adjust it and remove it).
  • Any testing requirements before use.
  • Any user maintenance that can be carried out (e.g. hygiene, cleaning, procedures).
  • Factors that can affect the performance of the equipment (e.g. working conditions personal factors, defects and damage).
  • How to recognise defects in PPE and arrangements for reporting them.
  • Where to get replacement PPE.

Maintaining PPE

An effective system of maintenance of PPE is essential to make sure the equipment continues to provide the degree of protection for which it is designed for. Therefore the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule (including recommended replacement periods and shelve life) must always be followed.

Maintenance may include, cleaning, examination, replacement, repair and testing. The user may be able to carry out simple maintenance but more intricate repairs must be carried out by a competent person.

Storage of PPE

You need to ensure that adequate storage facilities are provided when PPE is not in use unless the employee can take the PPE away from the workplace (e.g. footwear or clothing).

The storage should be adequate to protect the PPE from contamination, loss, damage, or sunlight. Where PPE may become contaminated during use you will need to provide storage that is separated from any other storage provided for ordinary clothing.

If you require any further advice you can call the Healthy Working Lives free advice line number on 0800 019 2211 and speak to one of our safety advisors.