In this short article, you can find the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions regarding PPE

Table Of Contents

What is personal protective equipment?

Personal Protective equipment, also known as PPE is a type of protective equipment that is designed to minimise the risk of injury. PPE includes a wide variety of products such as boots, hard hats, gloves, harnesses, high visibility clothing, work wear, face masks and many more.

You can read more about The 101 of PPE here.


When should I use personal protective equipment?

Personal Protective Equipment in UK law should be used to prevent an injury where a risk is present. PPE is the last line of defence after conducting careful planning and implementing safety precautions.

Reasons for using PPE:

  1. When you cannot remove the hazard
  2. As a temporary measure until a more effective protection method has been discovered.
  3. Use as an additional method of protection


When do employees have to use PPE?

Employees would need to wear PPE where ever there is a hazard present. The PPE worn must defend against the potential hazards of that environment.

Under UK law it is illegal for an employer to charge employees for the use of PPE. This includes direct charges, levies or the deduction of wages. An employer must provide PPE where necessary and also training on the use of PPE in the workplace.

You can read more about what employers are required to provide here.


Are uniforms classed as PPE?

Uniforms come in many different varieties, from something simple like a polo shirt to a hi-vis vest. Most uniforms have one thing in common, they usually have the company logo embroidered or printed on the item. We class this as personalised workwear.

If the garments do not offer any protection from hazards then they are technically not classed as PPE. However, in the circumstance where without the garment you are exposed to hazards, then this item is classed as PPE. This is still the case if the item is personalised with a logo or not.


What Personal Protective Equipment do I need?

There are many different types of PPE designed to protect multiple areas of the body. The PPE you will need is determined by a risk assessment for the environment you are working in, a lot of the time this is done for you by the employer.

The great thing about that is that as an employee they also need to provide you with the PPE necessary to keep you safe.

However, if you are an employer as haven’t completed a risk assessment it is important that you always consult an expert. If in doubt you must show steps are taken to assess the risk of the environment.


How do I maintain my PPE?

Maintaining PPE is different for each product. It is common practice is to ensure equipment is correctly repaired or replaced and ensure it is clean and hygienic. Regular testing is advised.

Items such as Hi Vis Vests are commonly shared as they are easy to maintain and clean. Most vests only get dirty and unclean, which means a quick clean can provide adequate maintenance.

Items included in RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) require specific treatment and maintenance due to their complexity.


Can I wear shorts on site?

Although there are many cases where wearing shorts could be advisable. The reasons to wear trousers often outway the reasons to wear shorts.

As there are multiple hazards in the workplace, wearing items to protect against injuries is important. Shorts provide no protection against cuts, grazes and splinters on the lower leg, something that is found often in construction sites.
There may be some workplaces where there are zero hazards which could injure the lower leg. These workplaces could let their employees wear shorts in certain weather conditions.

Weather conditions are one of the main factors to consider wearing shorts, prolonged exposure to cold or heat can cause injuries. Exposure to the sun is often linked to skin cancer, whilst, cold can also damage the skin and cause internal problems.

Ultimately the site policy and risk assessment will dictate the type of protection needed for the legs.

To read more about this, visit ARE YOU ALLOWED TO WEAR SHORTS AT WORK?


Do some religious groups no have to wear head protection?

Head protection like hard hats is crucial in the safety of workers. However, some employees have religious beliefs which mean that they cannot wear head protection.

Section 11(1) of the Employment Act 1989 as amended by Section 6 of the Deregulation Act 2015 exempts turban-wearing Sikhs from any legal requirement to wear a safety helmet in a workplace, including a construction site.

The exemption only applies to PPE related to head protection, other PPE should still be worn on other areas of the body.

The exemption also only applies to turban-wearing Sikh’s, these can be either visitors or employees. There is no such exemption for other religious groups or Sikh’s who do not choose to wear a turban.


Are sunglasses PPE?

Sunglasses are not usually classed as PPE unless they are designed to protect the wearer. For instance, there are multiple types of eye protection designed to stop potential hazards from reaching the eye. Now, if this eye protection was also to have a coloured glass i.e sunglasses, this would be classed as PPE.

And therefore the employer will need to provide this, however, it is not a requirement to provide you with sunglasses.

The full article can be found here: Are sunglasses PPE?


Any Questions?

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