Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE, is a simple and easy way to help protect your staff whilst at work. PPE is any protective equipment or clothing that is worn at work to reduce the effect of potential workplace hazards.
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PPE is used to protect from a wide range of hazards including –
- Injuries to hands or skin, e.g. dealing with chemicals, sharp objects, or waste products
- Injuries to eyes e.g. splashes from hot or dangerous liquids or flying particles
- Injuries to the head or feet, e.g. falling objects
- Injuries to lungs, e.g. breathing in harmful dust
- The weather, often for comfort, but also instances where physical protection is required
This type of equipment not only protects workers from physical injuries, but it can also protect them from developing serious ongoing health issues later in life, e.g. breathing problems from inhalation of fumes & gases.
Whilst providing this protection is simple and effective, it should not be seen as a shortcut to protecting staff when other control measures should be in place eg avoiding the need for staff to be involved in a process. As a reminder, PPE provided should only be given as a last resort when you have considered all other methods, e.g. removing the risk or introducing safe systems of work.
Some PPE is relatively easy to provide, e.g. gloves to cleaners, but other equipment needs some consideration before being issued, especially if the activity is dangerous. The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 were introduced to force employers to consider the provision of PPE, ensure the right equipment is issued for the activity concerned and staff is trained in how to use, store and keep in good condition.