Personal Protective Equipment


Started on July 19, 2024

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This PPE Awareness course introduces the concept and key requirements for PPE in the workplace. PPE stands for personal protective equipment, which is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety, footwear, and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment or RPE. The specific legislation relating to this is called personal protective equipment at work regulations.

In the UK, there are approximately 144 fatalities in the workplace and around 621,000 non fatal injuries every year. Of workplace injuries, 9% of all workplace injuries are head injuries. 50% of construction workers will suffer a serious eye injury during their career. 25% of workplace accidents involve hands and fingers 25% of workers are regularly exposed to noise is at or above recommended limits.

The employer should undertake a risk assessment to make sure that PPE is appropriate to the level of risk that employees might be exposed to. All PPE should take into account the user’s health and fitness factors and be compatible with other items of protective equipment required.

Who is this course for?

This PPE Awareness training course introduces employers, managers and supervisors to the concept and key requirements for PPE and RPE in the workplace under UK legislation. The course details both employer and employee responsibilities in connection to the provision, recording and use of PPE

Employers must ensure that employees understand what they are being taught, as some employees may have difficulty if the risks and precautions are particularly complex. If English is not the first language of some employees, then employers should consider whether the training should be given in a language they understand. This may also be done using pictograms or videos. To support training and enforce the need to wear specific PPE, especially in areas where additional hazards may exist, employers could use safety signs entry points to indicate where PPE is mandatory.

The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2016/425 is the legislation relevant to the supply of PPE to worker by an employer. Where the regulations are not adhered to, they are enforced using the PPE Regulations 2018 by the HSE.

Managers and supervisors must also be aware of why PPE is being used and how to use it properly. They can then use this information to monitor the effectiveness of PPE. There should also be training for people involved in maintaining, repairing, testing and selecting PPE. Preferably, this should be carried out in line with the PPE manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions.

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment should be undertaken in a two stage process: The Initial stage and Review stage.

The initial stage considers the overall risk and the choice of the PPE. Let’s take an example of someone using a petrol disc cutter. The risk assessment could consider the following

  • the job itself and the risks for which protection is needed – in the petrol disc cutter example
  • the risk of noise and impact to the eyes would suggest the provision of suitable ear defenders and goggles
  • the restriction or limitation placed by the work or activity. For example, the two suggested PPE may be adequate if the job is done for a short duration. However, if the person is expected to do cutting throughout the day, there will be other considerations such as the physical effort needed to do the job, how long the PPE has to be worn, and the requirements for visibility and communication,
  • the environment and surrounding conditions. For example, temperature, and the weather if employees are working outside may prompt the need to wear warm clothes and gloves.
  • The restriction on individuals wearing the PPE. This includes the health of the person wearing the PPE and its ergonomic effects such as comfort for the wearer. The overall aim is to choose PPE that gives maximum protection while ensuring minimum discomfort. This is because uncomfortable PPE is unlikely to be worn or used properly. Where reasonably practical the employer should offer a selection of PPE in a range of sizes so people can make a choice based on their individual needs.
  • They should always make sure that the alternatives give the appropriate level of protection required for the task

Reviewing PPE suitability. Once the initial risk has been assessed, the following questions will assist in reviewing and confirming the suitability of the selected PPE.

  • Does the choice of PPE prevent or adequately control the risks involved without increasing the overall level of risk? For example, the dust particles or the cold condition may impede the visibility through the goggles, which may create a much bigger risk of injury or amputation.
  • Is the PPE appropriate for the risks involved and the conditions where exposure to the risk may occur. For example, eye protection designed for protection against chemicals will not offer adequate protection from the impact of flying particles.
  • Other questions include the long term health risk of inhaling silica dust or damage to the nerves of the hands from tool vibration?
  • Can the PPE be adjusted to fit the wearer correctly? In the case of respiratory protective equipment, specialist fit testing is required.
  • Have the employees been involved in the selection of the PPE that they will be expected to wear if employees are involved in the selection of PPE, they are more likely to wear them?
  • Have employees been instructed and trained on how to use and maintain the PPE including the correct method of storage?
  • If more than one item of PPE is being worn, are they compatible? For example, do the ear defenders fit properly if a helmet is worn as well, if not, they may need to wear full protection as shown here.

Hazardous Substances

It’s important to consider and understand the way hazardous substances can harm workers and the routes that they can take to enter the body. This is essential in the selection of the correct PPE and an important part of the initial risk assessment. There are four prime routes that can lead to hazardous substances entering the body and these are absorbsion by skin contact, ingestion, injection, and inhalation. Let’s look at each of those in more detail.

Absorption  hazardous substances or chemicals can be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. Management may consider gloves to protect from the hazardous substances touching the skin
Ingestion. hazardous substances or chemicals can also be accidentally swallowed if hands or cigarettes are contaminated.
Injection. The injection route can involve employees stepping on a rusty nail being cut by sharpe objects or accidentally getting a needle stick injury.
Inhalation. Breathing or inhalation is the most common way substances can enter your body..

The management of PPE is covered by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, 1992.  For more detailed information on the range of activities and occupations that require PPE, you can access Risk at Work – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the HSE website

Course ContentModule
Regulations and Responsibilities2
PPE in Practice3
Risk Assessment, Selection and Use4
Types of PPE5
Maintenance and Replacement6
Course Assessment

Online assessment in PPE training is carried out by a series of multiple choice questions. Candidates must answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass each module. We advise you to complete each module and answer the question before moving on to the next module. This provides a better learning experience because you will need to have knowledge from earlier modules to understand some of the material in the later modules. For those who complete the course successfully, a PDF certificate of the award is sent directly to your inbox.  Hard copies of the award are available on request.  The course takes 60 minutes of training to complete. This is course content only and does not cover the time it takes to answer questions.

Other related courses to PPE Training offered by Agile Career Training Ltd are:

Behavioural Safety Training
Working Safely Training