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What is PPE?
PPE is defined in the PPER 1992 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 the person against one or more risks to that person’s health or safety, and any addition or accessory designed to meet that objective’.
Where an employer finds PPE to be necessary after a risk assessment, using the hierarchy of controls explained below, they have a duty to provide it free of charge.
Hierarchy of controls
PPE should be regarded as the last resort to protect against risks to health and safety. Engineering controls and safe systems of work should be considered first.
Consider controls in the following order, with elimination being the most effective and PPE being the least effective:
Employers with both employees and limb (b) workers
From 6 April 2022, you need to ensure that there is no difference in the way PPE is provided to your workers, as defined by PPER 2022. This means assessing the risk and ensuring suitable PPE is provided, when needed, to all people that fall under the definition of worker.
The PPE provided must be compatible, maintained and correctly stored. All workers must use the PPE properly following training and instruction in its use from their employer. If the PPE you provide is lost or becomes defective, your worker should report that to you.
Employers with only limb (b) workers
You need to ensure that your workers are provided with PPE free of charge, where required, from 6 April 2022. This means assessing the residual risk once all other measures (such as engineering controls) have been taken.
You then need to ensure suitable PPE is:
You also need to provide training and instruction in its use to all your workers. You cannot charge workers for PPE they require to carry out their work.
How this legislation is enforced
HSE inspectors already include assessment of PPE as part of their routine inspections. Enforcement action can range from verbal or written advice to enforcement notices and, in the most serious cases, prosecution of dutyholders.
PPE not regulated and enforced under PPER 1992
Workers may be required to wear items of PPE under legislation other than PPER 1992. For example, crash helmets worn by workers on the road which is legally required under road traffic legislation.
The full list of circumstances where PPER 1992 do not apply is contained in regulation 3.
PPE that is required to reduce risks arising from the following is regulated and enforced under regulations other than the PPER 1992.
These risks include those from: