When should you use PPE?

PPE should be used when safe systems of work have been applied and hazards still remain. PPE reduces risk of injury to the body, specifically: Eyes, Ears, Head, Feet, Lungs and Skin.

Who is responsible?

Everyone in the workplace has an element of responsibility for ensuring adequate PPE is in use.


Regulation 4 of the Personal Protective Equipment at work states;

...every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to their employees, except where such risk has been reasonably controlled by other means which are equally or more effective

It is also the employer’s responsibility to provide training and instructions for use, and carry out regular maintenance.


The self employed also have a duty to obtain and use the appropriate PPE.


Employees must use the PPE provided to them as instructed by their employer. It is the employee's responsibility to examine the equipment before use and report any damage immediately. An employee should not carry out maintenance unless trained and authorised.

Top tips

  1. There are times when PPE needs to be worn all day; comfort is key.
  2. If you need more than one item of PPE, consider how they fit together. You can purchase combinations such as respirators with eye protection.
  3. Select the right fit. If you’re an employer provide a good range so your employees can choose for themselves. If purchasing for yourself, why not try it on? - find your nearest store.
  4. Don’t go over the top, there is such a thing as too protective. Choosing ear defenders which cut out too much noise can cause isolation. Wearing unnecessary, bulky protective clothing could restrict movement. If it makes the job more difficult, you or your employees may become less willing to wear them.
  5. Carry out regular maintenance checks ensuring protection is in good clean condition, with no damage or unofficial modifications.
  6. Select the right grade. There are too many variants to list, respirators are a good example. When choosing a respirator you must ensure you select the correct filter for the application and contaminant. Make an informed choice, view our buying guides.
  7. Prevention is better than cure. As a workforce we’ve become more aware of health and safety in the workplace, PPE and selecting the right kit for the job. It is the law after all. We often neglect strain injuries caused by repetitive work. Educate your employees or familiarise yourself with manual handling techniques. Consider matting for preventing slip hazards and relieving stress on the legs and back from standing on a hard floor for long periods.

Finding more information on PPE

For more information on health and safety at work and your responsibilities as an employer, employee or someone who is self-employed, you can visit the HSE website. For advice on selecting the right health and safety equipment for you and your business speak with our knowledgeable Business Services team.

Get in touch

To arrange a visit with your regional Technical Consultant phone 0800 371822, email abst@axminster.co.uk or complete this form. Find out more about our Business Services team at axminster.co.uk/business.