Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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Guidance for Safety Representatives Safety representatives can help prevent problems
The TUC has produced a guide for safety representatives on
For more information on PPE click here for the relevant chapter of the TUC guide to health and safety "Hazards at Work

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be a "last resort" but often is not. Wherever possible prevention, engineering controls or safe systems of work that could eliminate the hazard, and so the employment of PPE, should be used instead.

HSE defines PPE as "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 against one or more risks to their health or safety e.g. safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses." All PPE required to protect a worker must be provided free of charge by employers.

Introduction of PPE may introduce new hazards to workers. For example, disposable latex gloves used by health workers are made from natural rubber and are a major cause of allergic contact dermatitis and other allergic conditions. PPE is often designed for male bodies, for women workers this may introduce serious hazards. Ill-fitting protective garments will have their effectiveness compromised, overly large gloves may get caught in machinery.

The TUC has produced a guide for safety representatives on feet and footwear. Many problems are caused by inadequate footwear. Work in any environment where there is a risk of slipping requires slip-resistant shoes. Where there is the risk of a shoe being crushed or hit by an object, or even caught in machinery, safety footwear must be provided. If there is the possibility of standing on nails or other sharp objects then the employer must provide puncture resistant soles. The TUC guide "Working feet and footwear" can be found at:



Free HSE leaflets on PPE

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

Checking your Personal Protective Equipment

Download Personal protective equipment and women (PDF) Guidance for workplace representatives on ensuring it is a safe fit. The findings in the report are based on 2,655 responses to a TUC survey and 3086 responses to a Prospect/WES survey. This report covers: The law on personal protective equipment Problems with...
25 April 2017
The TUC and BOHS have produced a guide that explains the importance of occupational hygiene and the role it plays in protecting workers.
23 November 2016
More than 60 Health and Safety reps attended the Health & Safety Forum event held on Tuesday 18 th October in Newcastle. In her introduction, Beth Farhat, TUC Regional Secretary, said today’s event is one in a series organised by the Forum in response to requests from workplace health and...
21 October 2016
The aim of this TUC survey is to get an indication of how many workers are exposed to substances in the workplace that could injure them or make them ill, and whether employers are taking appropriate action to remove them or prevent exposure. Many think of hazardous substances as being...
30 January 2015
Construction union UCATT is warning all construction workers to make sure that their protective equipment is genuine, following fresh concerns that fake safety equipment has made its way onto sites.
22 February 2013
A UK hard hat manufacturer is urging contractors to check their site workers' helmets after a potentially lethal batch of poor quality counterfeits was discovered.
08 February 2013
A mechanical engineer developed a painful skin condition when he was exposed to chemicals at work.
11 January 2013
Construction union UCATT has written to the Health and Safety Executive calling on the official safety regulator to prevent personal protective equipment being sold on site through vending machines.
11 January 2013
Construction union UCATT is warning that using vending machines to sell life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) on sites risks workers' safety and could be illegal. The union alert came after UK vending machine specialist VendEase announced it had “secured business with Barr Construction to help solve the costly problem of...
14 December 2012
More than one in five workers is being forced to pay for lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE), despite laws that say employers must provide it free of charge. TUC survey findings released this week report more than one in every 10 (11.6 per cent) respondents said that although they were...
27 July 2012