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These regulations were created to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) is only used as the last resort to control exposure to health and safety risks. It also addresses issues relating to the selection, usage and maintenance of PPE.

As part of their health and safety policy and/or associated risk assessments, employers and self-employed individuals must ensure that appropriate PPE is provided to protect their self and employees against the residual risk involved in an activity after all other possible controls have been implemented.

There must also be suitable arrangements for maintenance, storage, instruction, training and to check that employees are wearing or using their PPE as prescribed.

Under this legislation, employees have a duty to wear or use the supplied PPE as instructed and trained, return it to the accommodation provided after use and report any loss of defect to their employer.

Self-employed individuals must similarly make full and proper use of the equipment, check its condition and address defects.


A suitable and sufficient risk assessment must be undertaken to identify that suitable PPE is provided and fit for purpose. The decision about suitability will need to be based on:

  • risk and conditions;
  • ergonomic requirements;
  • the user’s health state/position;
  • fitting and adjustability;
  • whether it complies with standards set out by EEC directives (namely the PPE Directive, which was merged into UK law by these Regulations);
  • compatibility with other PPE; and
  • other characteristics of PPE and the situation(s) where it is to be used.

This risk assessment must be reviewed on a regular basis and when a significant change has taken place relating to the activities, premises or workers. Additionally, PPE must be maintained in a good efficient state of repair and working order and accommodation should be provided for equipment when it is not being used.

Employers are to take reasonable steps to ensure that PPE is worn and that this is regularly monitored with appropriate levels of supervision provided.

Comprehensive information, instruction and training must be provided to the wearer/user covering:

  • the risks that the PPE will eliminate or limit;
  • why and how the PPE is to be used; and
  • how to maintain and store the PPE.

More guidance on PPE requirements and a (non-exhaustive) appendix of types of PPE is available on our PPE risk topic page

Hearing protection and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) provided for most work situations are not covered by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (PPE) Regulations, as there are other more specific Regulations (such as those detailed below) that apply, but hearing protection and RPE must be compatible with any other PPE provided.

When considering issues relating to PPE, you may also need to consider whether more specific requirements are detailed within other legislation that covers the task, such as the: