As a Line Manager, when do I need to provide PPE?

PPE should always be your last resort to manage workplace risks. This is a legal requirement. 

While risk assessing work activities you need to think of different control measures before moving to ask employees to wear PPE. When deciding what precaution that you are going to introduce in the workplace you can work through the ‘hierarchy of controls’. It aims to minimise or prevent workplace hazards. 

Hierarchy of controls 

The controls in the hierarchy are in order of decreasing effectiveness, you should always follow this order. 

  1. Elimination - Physically remove the hazard, for example use a mechanical aid instead of manual handling. 
  2. Substitution - Replace the hazard with something less dangerous, for example by using a less hazardous chemical. 
  3. Engineering Controls - Isolate the employees from the hazard, such as noise zones or barriers. 
  4. Administrative Controls - Change or train the way people work, for example by reducing the exposure to vibration by rotating employees. 
  5. PPE - Protect the worker with personal protective equipment. 

These are some of the reasons why PPE must be considered as a last resort. 

  • PPE only protects the person wearing it, whereas measures controlling the risk at source protects everyone in the workplace. 
  • It is hard to assess the level of protection provided by PPE because it depends on how it fits the individual and if it is maintained and used correctly. 
  • PPE may restrict the user to some extent by limiting mobility or visibility, or by requiring additional weight to be carried. Thus creating additional hazards. 
  • Related Board:
    • National Services Scotland
    • Public Health Scotland