Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment


What is Personal Protective Equipment​?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to his health or safety. The Regulations covering PPE are the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (as amended) 1992.

Examples for PPE used in the construction industry are safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

Hearing protection and respiratory protective equipment provided for most work situations are not covered by the Regulations because other regulations apply to them. However, these items need to be compatible with any other PPE provided.

What do the Regulations require?

The main requirement of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 is that personal protective equipment is to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways. The Regulations also require that PPE:

  • is properly assessed before use to ensure it is suitable
  • is maintained and stored properly
  • is provided with instructions on how to use it safely
  • is used correctly.

Can employers charge for providing Personal Protective Equipment?

An employer cannot ask for money from an employee for PPE, whether it is returnable or not. This includes agency workers if they are legally regarded as employees. If employment has been terminated and the employee keeps the PPE without the employer’s permission, then, as long as it has been made clear in the contract of employment, the employer may be able to deduct the cost of the replacement from any wages owed.

Examples of hazards and types of PPE


Hazards: chemical or metal splash, dust, projectiles, gas and vapour, radiation.

Options: safety spectacles, goggles, faceshields, visors.


Hazards: impact from falling or flying objects, risk of head bumping, hair entanglement.

Options: a range of helmets and bump caps.


Hazards: dust, vapour, gas.

Options: disposable filtering facepiece or respirator, half- or full-face respirators, air-fed helmets, breathing apparatus.

Protecting the body

Hazards: temperature extremes, adverse weather, chemical or metal splash, spray from pressure leaks or spray guns, impact or penetration, contaminated dust, excessive wear or entanglement of own clothing.

Options: conventional or disposable overalls, boiler suits, specialist protective clothing, eg chain-mail aprons, high-visibility clothing.

Hands and arms

Hazards: abrasion, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures, impact, chemicals, electric shock, skin infection, disease or contamination.

Options: gloves, gauntlets, mitts, wristcuffs, armlets.

Feet and legs

Hazards: wet, electrostatic build-up, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, metal and chemical splash, abrasion.

Options: safety boots and shoes with protective toe caps and penetration-resistant mid-sole, gaiters, leggings.


Anyone using PPE needs to be aware of why it is needed, when it is to be used, repaired or replaced and its limitations. It is essential that workers are Trained and instructed into how to use PPE properly and make sure they are doing this.

Because PPE is the last resort after other methods of protection have been considered, it is important that users wear it all the time they are exposed to the risk. Never allow exemptions for those jobs which take ‘just a few minutes’.

Employers should regularly check that PPE is being used and investigate any reasons why it is not. Safety signs can be useful reminders to wear PPE.

CE marking

Ensure any PPE you use is ‘CE’ marked and complies with the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. The CE marking means that the PPE satisfies certain basic safety requirements and in some cases will have been tested and certified by an independent body.

Fake Presonal Protective Equipment​

In recent years there has been an increase in fake PPE being circulated in construction. Putting it bluntly fake PPE can kill.

The most common form of fake PPE so far seen has been fake safety helmets. In some cases the fake products are so flimsy that they can be split in half using your bare hands.

Workers should check that safety helmets have a consistent colour, have clear and legible marking and are durable. They should also be supplied with an original user information leaflet (not a photocopy), that is correctly spelt and has the manufacturers contact details listed.

Other items of PPE that could be fake include safety gloves and boots.

UCATT strongly advises that if workers have concerns about the authenticity of their PPE they should raise the issue with employers. If you are not comfortable with the reassurances you receive, then you should contact your regional office.

Remember you have a right not to put yourself in danger.

Further information:

HSE website, FAQs on Personal Protective Equipment:

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