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: http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/footwear.pdf



Free HSE leaflets on PPE

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

Checking your Personal Protective Equipment

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