What personal protective equipment means

Personal protective equipment also known as PPE is a term thrown around the workplace on a regular basis, but do you really know what it means? Perhaps you wear PPE on a daily basis but do not know its core function?

In this article, we will be exploring some of the basics behind PPE and what it is used for exactly. We will also be touching on the type of industries that use PPE.

Let begin with the history…

The history of Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment goes back all the way to the 1800’s when the first aspects of health and safety were formed. In 1833 the factories act ensured employees worked in hazards free workplaces, over time this developed into the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the formation of Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

With hundreds of regulations and legislation being created after the formation, including the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, which outlined all the standards of PPE.

The regulation outlined the areas of which Personal Protective Equipment will need to protect, these areas include the eyes, ears, lungs, skin and body. Items within this category do not have to protect more than one area but many items tend to offer a range of protection.

The products included in Personal Protective Equipment

Each item is designed to protect an area of the body, from head to toe, these items are specifically designed to protect.


Each of the items that are included in the eyewear protection is usually based on the glasses design. Items like safety spectacles, goggles, face-shields and visors are a superb choice to protect the eyes from potential hazards.


Most of the items within this category are designed to protect the head from falling objects, such as hard hats and helmets. Whereas there are items such as bump caps which are designed to reduce the impact of bumps to the head.


Working in environments where there are airborne dusts, vapours and gasses can cause serious medical conditions, this is why in many environments you would need to wear special equipment. This special equipment is usually a respirator or filter which can be either a half or full face mask/helmet.

Protecting the body

There are many Items to protect the body against potential hazards, as a number of hazards are extraordinarily high. With potential hazards ranging from adverse weather conditions to chemical/metal splashes, items like boiler suits and protective jackets are often considered.

Hands and arms

The hands and arms are usually the first areas to come into contact with a potential hazard. These are also some of the easiest to protect as well. Items like protective gloves can often protect you from hazards such as abrasions, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures and much more.

Feet and legs

Working in environments such as building sites can often present hazards near the feet and legs. Stepping on sharp objects can easily penetrate through the foot and cause serious damage to the foot. Wearing items such as Steel Toe Cap boots can help to protect the feet from such effects, whereas, wearing work trousers will help to protect the legs.

The industries that use Personal Protective Equipment

There is a huge range of sectors that regularly wear Personal Protective Equipment, from builders to warehouse operatives, employees from around the globe wear some form of the protective products. As you now know, personal protective equipment includes an extensive range of products, therefore you must have seen plenty around workplaces. The most common item is the Hi Vis Vest, it is hard to go to any workplace without seeing one of these lying around, from railway to quarries.