When should you use PPE? - The Sign Shed

When should you use PPE?

When should you use PPE?

According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used whenever there is a risk to health or safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means. This means that PPE should be used as a last resort after all other measures, such as engineering and administrative controls, have been implemented to reduce the risk as much as possible.

Assessing Risk

The first step in determining whether or not PPE is necessary is to conduct a risk assessment. This assessment should identify all of the potential hazards in the workplace and evaluate the likelihood and severity of harm that could potentially result from exposure to these hazards.

Engineering Controls

Once the hazards have been identified, the next step is implementing engineering controls to eliminate or reduce the risk. Engineering controls are physical measures designed to eliminate or isolate the hazard at the source. Examples of engineering controls include:

  • Machine guards to prevent contact with moving parts
  • Local exhaust ventilation to remove dust, fumes, or gases from the workplace
  • Isolation of hazardous substances to prevent exposure

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls should be implemented if engineering controls cannot eliminate or adequately reduce the risk. Administrative controls are procedures or practices designed to minimize exposure to the hazard. Examples of administrative controls include:

  • Job rotation to limit exposure to hazardous substances
  • Training on how to use PPE safely and effectively
  • Housekeeping to keep the workplace clean and free of hazards

PPE Selection

If engineering and administrative controls cannot adequately control the risk, PPE must be used. The selection of PPE should be based on the specific hazards present in the workplace. Some factors to consider when selecting PPE include:

  • The type of hazard (e.g., chemical, physical, biological)
  • The level of exposure
  • The comfort and fit of the PPE

PPE Use and Maintenance

PPE must be appropriately used to be effective. This means it must be worn correctly, maintained in good condition, and replaced when necessary. Employees should also be trained on how to use PPE safely and effectively.

HSE Guidelines

The HSE provides several guidelines for the use of PPE, including:

  • PPE should be provided, without charge, to employees who need it.
  • Employees should be trained on how to use PPE safely and effectively.
  • PPE should be inspected regularly and replaced when necessary.
  • Employees should report any damage or defects to their PPE immediately.


PPE is an essential tool to protect workers from health and safety hazards. However, it is important to remember that PPE should be used as a last resort after all other measures have been implemented to reduce the risk. By following the HSE guidelines, you can ensure that PPE is used effectively in your workplace.

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