Employers Responsibility to provide PPE

In today's rapidly evolving work environment, the health and safety of employees remain paramount. With the inherent risks associated with certain professions, the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be overstated.

Employers play a crucial role in ensuring the proper implementation and utilisation of PPE to safeguard their workforce. Within this article, Croner aims to shed light on the responsibilities of employers regarding the enforcement of PPE in the workplace. By understanding these obligations, employers can create a safer and more secure environment for their employees, promoting well-being and productivity.

What is Personal Protective Equipment?

Personal Protective Equipment comprises of equipment or clothing designed to safeguard your employees from health and safety risks in the workplace, commonly referred to as PPE. This can encompass:

  • Helmets or other head protection.
  • Gloves or gauntlets.
  • Eye protection such as goggles, visors or full shields.
  • High-vis, fire-resistant, thermal, anti-stab or cut such as Kevlar, body armour or clothing.
  • Safety boots, clogs, wellingtons
  • Harnesses and lanyards or other fall arrest systems or devices.

But what is Personal Protective Equipment used for? PPE is for protection against hazards that pose a risk to the employees’ health and safety. More specifically, you’ll provide it to your employees for protection from:

  • Contaminated or insufficient air or environment.
  • Materials falling on your head, feet or body.
  • Small flying particles, projectiles, or hazardous chemical liquids splashing into your eyes.
  • Protection against contaminants coming in to contact with your skin, penetration or amputation.
  • Extreme temperatures hot or cold.

When to use different types of Personal Protective Equipment

The type of PPE you use is dependent on the risk your employees face.

Each hazard presents challenges, so it’s important you understand which part of each issue will affect and how. The main dangers to consider are to the:

Eyes: Chemical or liquid metal splashes, dust, gas, vapour, radiation and projectiles.

Head and neck: Impact from falling objects, bumping head, hair tangled in machinery, chemical drips, and splashes.

Ears: Primarily noise: sound levels and length of exposure.

Hands and arms: Cuts, punctures, impact, electric shock, vibration, radiation, chemical exposure, extreme temperatures, and abrasion.

Feet and legs: Cuts, punctures, chemical exposure, vehicles, falling objects, slipping, electrostatic build-up, extreme temperatures, and wet conditions.

Lungs: Inhaling dust, gases, and vapours. Oxygen-deficient atmospheres.

Whole-body: Impact, penetration, the entanglement of clothing, extreme temperatures, chemical or liquid metal splashes, spray from pressure leaks or spray guns, contaminated dust.

Types of personal protective equipment

While it's important to understand when and where PPE should be used, it's crucial to emphasise that PPE should only be employed as a last resort when the risk cannot be sufficiently managed by other means.

Below is a comprehensive list of personal protective equipment categorised by the specific body part it is designed to protect:

Eyes: Goggles, Face shields and riot shields, Visors, Face screens

Head & neck: Safety helmets or hard hats, Bump caps, Hairnets, Fire-resistant balaclavas,

Ears: Earplugs rigid or disposable, Earmuffs, Semi-insert/canal caps.

Hands & arms: Gloves, Gauntlet, Long sleeves.

Feet & legs: Safety boots or shoes, Wellington boots, Clogs or overshoe protectors, Chaps or Kevlar trousers, Leather aprons for foundry use.

Lungs: Respirators, Half/full masks, Fresh-air hose, Self-contained breathing apparatus.

Whole-body: Overalls, Boiler suits, Aprons, Chemical suits, Salopettes.

While there are numerous personal protective equipment examples, you should conduct a risk assessment to find the exact equipment specifications for the role.

Conducting a Personal Protective Equipment risk assessment

The first step in identifying whether you need to provide employees with PPE is to try to mitigate those risks through other means, such as engineering controls and safe systems of work. if this is not possible then you can consider the use of PPE.

Follow these five steps:

  1. Identify the hazard (any of those listed above).
  2. Decide which of your employees face harm and how.
  3. Evaluate the risk and any precautions you could take to limit it.
  4. Keep a record of all of your findings.
  5. Review the assessment regularly and update it with any new findings.

After completing the risk assessment, it is essential to communicate to staff whether a mandatory policy for the use of relevant PPE is required.

Remember, PPE should be a last resort and you must not rely on it alone to protect your workers from hazards. Employers should take other precautions to guarantee the safety of your staff.


The legislation that defines employers’ responsibilities when it comes to PPE is the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 2022. There were changes to this regulation in 2022 that resulted in extending employers duties to include limb (b) workers.

These types of workers are classified as ‘dependent contractors’. They are generally registered as self-employed but provide a service as part of your business. Typically, the worker must carry out the role personally, rather than have someone substitute for them. This is different from regular self-employed individuals, as they only work for themselves.

Where PPE is required, employers must provide this to employees and limb (b) workers free of charge. Employers are responsible for ensuring that the issued PPE is; compatible for the task/hazard, maintained correctly, stored appropriately and used properly.

Training must be provided to employees to ensure that PPE is used correctly and safely.

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the HSE specify further guidance for the prevention of exposure to asbestos and the provision of protective equipment. This regulation states that, where all other control measures have been exhausted, employers must provide employees that are exposed to asbestos with suitable respiratory protective equipment. The RPE provided must be suitable for its purpose and be matched to the; job, environment, anticipated maximum expose and the wearer (consider facial hair and glasses etc). The HSE recommends that employers select PPE that is;

  • Equipped to protect against exposures that are much higher than expected.
  • loose enough to avoid straining and ripping the seams;
  • comfortable enough to allow for the effects of physical strain;
  • suitable for cold environments;
  • Able to prevent penetration by asbestos fibres;
  • elasticated at the cuffs, ankles and on the hoods of overalls and
  • designed to ensure a close fit at the wrists, ankles, face and neck
  • designed not have any pockets or other attachments which could attract and trap asbestos dust;
  • easy to decontaminate or dispose of

As part of ARCA’s partnership with Croner, you can access complementary H&S support for your business. Unsure if you are fulfilling all of your obligations?  Give Croner a call on 0844 5612 8133 to access expert support.