3.2 Safety equipment

Personal protective equipment
What is PPE
What do the regulations require
Who pays for providing PPE

If you are living in Ireland, click here for the Safety equipment information for Ireland

Personal Protective Equipment

Employers have basic duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work and this section explains some if the important requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

What is PPE?

PPE is defined in the Regulations 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 him against one or more risks to his health or safety’, eg safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

Hearing protection and respiratory protective equipment provided for most work situations are not covered by these Regulations because other regulations apply to them. However, these items need to be compatible with any other PPE provided.


What do the Regulations require?

The main requirement of the PPE at Work Regulations 1992 is that personal protective equipment is to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways.

The Regulations also require that PPE is:

  • properly assessed before use to ensure it is suitable;
  • maintained and stored properly;
  • provided with instructions on how to use it safely; and
  • used correctly by employees.


Who pays for providing PPE?

An employer cannot ask for money from an employee for PPE, whether it is returnable or not. This includes agency workers if they are legally regarded as employees. If employment has been terminated and the employee keeps the PPE without the employer’s permission, then, as long as it has been made clear in the contract of employment, the employer may be able to deduct the cost of the replacement from any wages owed.