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

National Services Scotland

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 seeks to ensure that where risks cannot be controlled by other means PPE should be correctly identified and put into use. 

Under the requirements of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (external site), employees will not be charged with or contribute to the provision and maintenance of PPE. If there is a need for PPE items they must be provided free of charge by the employer. 

The regulations do not apply where requirements are detailed in other regulations such as respirators in The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).?Many other regulations have specific requirements for the provision, maintenance and the use of PPE. ? 

Such as the regulations dealing with asbestosnoise or ionising radiation. This ensures that specific hazards and their controls are dealt with by specific regulations. 

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.

If you require additional information you can contact the NSS Health & Safety Advisors through HR Connect Contact Us / Health and Safety

NHS Golden Jubilee

Personal Protective Equipment Guidance

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) sets out duties to employers to ensure that PPE is:

  • supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health & safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways;
  • properly assessed before use to ensure it is suitable;
  • maintained and stored properly;
  • provided with instructions on how to use it safely; and
  • used correctly by employees.

Public Health Scotland

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 seeks to ensure that where risks cannot be controlled by other means PPE should be correctly identified and put into use. 

Under the requirements of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (external site), employees will not be charged with or contribute to the provision and maintenance of PPE. If there is a need for PPE items they must be provided free of charge by the employer. 

The regulations do not apply where requirements are detailed in other regulations such as respirators in The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).?Many other regulations have specific requirements for the provision, maintenance and the use of PPE. ? 

Such as the regulations dealing with asbestosnoise or ionising radiation. This ensures that specific hazards and their controls are dealt with by specific regulations. 

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.

If you require additional information you can contact the NSS Health & Safety Advisors through HR Connect Contact Us / Health and Safety 

Scottish Ambulance Service

The Scottish Ambulance Service will take all measures to fulfil its responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulations 1992.

    • What kind of head protection is availableNational Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      There are three widely used types of head protection.

      • Industrial safety helmets (hard hats) which are designed to protect against materials falling from a height or swinging objects.
      • Industrial scalp protectors (bump caps) which are designed to protect from knocking against stationary objects.
      • Caps/hair nets which protect against entanglement.

      Tasks where head protection may be required include

      • construction
      • building repair
      • work in excavations or tunnels
      • work with bolt driving tools
      • driving motorcycles.

      Turban-wearing Sikhs are exempt from wearing head protection on construction sites by virtue of The Employment Act 1989 as amended by section 6 of the Deregulation act 2015

      If you feel that you work within an area which you feel requires additional PPE, please discuss this within your Line Manger and refer to your Business Unit Risk profile to see if this has been identified and what controls have been put in place for you.

    • What kind of eye protection is availableNational Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      There are several types of eye protection.

      • Safety spectacles: these are similar to regular glasses but have a tougher lens, they can include side shields for additional protection.
      • Eye shield: a frame-less one piece molded lens often worn over prescription glasses.
      • Safety goggles: these are made of flexible plastic frames and an elastic headband.
      • Face shields: heavier and bulkier than other types of eye protection, face shields protect the face, but do not fully enclose the eye so do not protect against dust, gases, fumes and mists.

      Tasks where eye protection may be used include

      • handling hazardous substances where there is a risk of splashes
      • working with power driven tools where materials are likely to be propelled
      • welding operations
      • working with lasers
      • using gas or vapour under pressure.

      If you feel that you work within an area which you feel requires additional PPE, please discuss this within your Line Manger and refer to your Business Unit Risk profile to see if this has been identified and what controls have been put in place for you.

       

    • What are the Boards duties in relation to PPE?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 place duties on employees to take reasonable steps to ensure that the PPE provided is properly used. 

      The Regulations also place the following duties on employees. 

      • PPE must be worn and used in accordance with the instructions provided to them 
      • Employees must make sure that PPE is returned to the provided accommodation after use (unless the employee takes the PPE away from the workplace e.g. footwear or clothing). 
      • PPE should be returned to the appropriate storage unit (if applicable) after use, unless the employee takes their PPE home, for example footwear or clothing. 
      • PPE must be visually examined before use. 
      • Any loss or obvious defect must be immediately reported to their line manager. 
      • Employees must take reasonable care of any PPE provided to them and not carry out any maintenance unless trained and authorized. 

      If you feel that you work within an area which you feel requires additional PPE, please discuss this within your Line Manger and refer to your Business Unit Risk profile to see if this has been identified and what controls have been put in place for you. 

    • What types of body protection is available?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      Types of body protection include 

      • overalls, aprons and coveralls (protection against hazardous substances) 
      • clothing for hot, cold or bad weather 
      • clothing to protect against machinery 
      • high visibility (jackets, trousers and vests) 
      • harnesses 
      • life jackets. 

      Tasks where body protection may be required include 

      • working with hazardous substances 
      • working next to the highway or areas with moving transport and vehicles (e.g. construction sites) 
      • outdoor, forestry and ground maintenance work. 

      If you feel that you work within an area which you feel requires additional PPE, please discuss this within your Line Manger and refer to your Business Unit Risk profile to see if this has been identified and what controls have been put in place for you. 

       

    • What types of hand and arm protection is available?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      Hand and arm protection comes in a variety of forms. 

      • Gloves or gauntlets (leather, latex, nitrile, plastic coated, chain mail, etc). 
      • Wrist cuff armlets (e.g. used in glass cutting and handling). 

      Tasks where hand and arm protection may be required include 

      • manual handling of abrasive, sharp or pointed objects 
      • working with vibrating equipment such as pneumatic drills and chainsaws 
      • construction and outdoor work 
      • working with chemicals and hazardous substances such as body fluids 
      • working in hot or cold materials or temperatures. 

      In order to eliminate the risk of ill health through exposure to latex a number of organisations have phased out the use of latex gloves and replaced them with nitrile. 

      If you feel that you work within an area which you feel requires additional PPE, please discuss this within your Line Manger and refer to your Business Unit Risk profile to see if this has been identified and what controls have been put in place for you. 

    • What types of foot protection is available?Public Health Scotland, National Services Scotland

      There are a number of types of safety footwear. 

      • Safety boots or shoes, normally have steel toe caps but can have other safety features (e.g. steel mid soles, slip resistant soles, insulation against the heat and cold. 
      • Wellington boot can also have steel toe caps. 
      • Anti-static and conductive footwear, these protect against static electricity. 

      Tasks where foot protection may be required include 

      • construction 
      • demolition 
      • building repair 
      • manual handling where the risk of heavy objects falling on the feet 
      • working in extremely hot or cold environments 
      • working with chemicals and forestry. 

      Where there is a risk of slipping that cannot be avoided or controlled by other measures, attention must be given to slip resistant soles and replaced before the tread pattern is worn. 

      If you feel that you work within an area which you feel requires additional PPE, please discuss this within your Line Manger and refer to your Business Unit Risk profile to see if this has been identified and what controls have been put in place for you. 

       

    • Information, Instruction and Training on PPE usage – what’s the requirements?NHS Education for Scotland, Public Health Scotland
    • What types of respiratory protective equipment are available?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      RPE is designed to protect the individual wearer from various hazardous substances in their workplace. There are two types of respiratory equipment. 

      1. Filters contaminated air or cleans it before it is breathed in. 
      1. Supplies clean air from an independent source. 

      RPE may be required for working with large amounts of 

      • gases, vapours 
      • dusts, powders 
      • welding 
      • grinders, cutter and saw use. 

      Face masks rely on a good seal against the face, if there are gaps in the face mask then contaminated air, dust, gases and vapours may be breathed into the lungs. For this reason it is very important your mask fits properly and is used correctly every time you use it. 

      Facial hair, stubble and beards make it impossible to get a good seal on the face. 

      For this reason you need to be clean shaven to allow a good seal around the face and prevent any leaks of contaminated air into the lungs. 

      There are reasons that employees may have a beard for example, religious reasons. If that is the case there are alternative options that could be introduced, such as a full hood covering the head and the face. 

      Face fit testing of RPE 

      The RPE should have a tight-fitting face piece, you need to ensure the user has the correct device. For this reason the initial selection of RPE should include fit-testing. A competent face fit tester should carry out these assessments. 

      You will need to repeat the face fit testing if there are changes. For example if the model or size of the face piece changes or if there are significant changes to the user’s facial characteristics. There are two forms of face fit testing. 

      • Qualitative fit testing is suitable for disposable filter face pieces and half masks. This can be done as a simple pass/fail based on the user’s subjective assessment of the fit and leakage and this method is not suitable for full face masks.  
      • Quantitative fit testing provides a numerical measure of the fit known as a fit factor. This test requires special equipment and it is more complicated to carry out. This method is recommended for full face masks. Quantitative risk assessment is a more in-depth assessment of the risk. 
    • How do I store my PPE?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      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. 

    • How do I maintain my PPE?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      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. 

    • What should PPE information and instruction cover?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland
      • 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. 
    • How do I assess the suitability of PPE?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      The following factors should be considered when assessing the suitability of PPE. 

      • Is the PPE appropriate for the risk involved and conditions at the place where exposure may occur? E.g., goggles are not suitable when full face protection is required. 
      • Does the PPE prevent or adequately control the risks involved without increasing the overall risk? E.g., gloves should not be worn when using a pillar drill due to the increased risk of entanglement. 
      • Can the PPE be adjusted to fit the user correctly? E.g., if an employee wears glasses then ear defenders may not provide a proper seal to protect against noise hazards. 
      • What are the needs of the job and the demands it places on the user? 
      • How long will the PPE be worn? 
      • What are the requirements for visibility and communication? E.g., PPE might not allow the user to hear a fire alarm. 
      • If more than one item of PPE is being worn are they compatible? E.g., some respirators make it difficult for eye protection to fit properly. 
      • Has the state of health been taken into account of those using the PPE? E.g., a health surveillance survey could be carried out to make sure the PPE is suitable for those users and doing the job it is supposed to do. 
    • How do I assess and choose PPE?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      The need for PPE must be identified through Risk Assessment, it should not be a one size fits all approach. The protective equipment should be personal to the individual user and be suitable and fit for purpose.  

      All personal protective equipment must be 'C E' Marked (external site). The C E mark signifies that the PPE satisfies certain basic/minimum safety requirements. 

      To establish if your employees need to wear PPE you can carry out a risk assessment. During the assessment you will identify workplace hazards, evaluate and estimate risks to decide if you are doing enough to manage risks in the workplace. You will also decide what PPE needs to be used. 

    • As a Line Manager, when do I need to provide PPE?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      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.