In the current climate, personal protective equipment (PPE) has taken almost exclusively to mean face coverings and any other pieces of equipment used to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. However, PPE is a much broader term which your construction business needs to consider and understand in order to ensure the safety of employees and site visitors, as well as lawful compliance with health and safety legislation. This includes appropriate signage to inform people as to the PPE requirements of your site. Here, we offer a brief guide to PPE, explaining what it is, what PPE signage looks like and what it’s used for, and what the PPE at work regulations are for construction sites.
What is PPE?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is defined by government legislation as ‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health or safety, and any addition or accessory designed to meet that objective.’ This means to wear PPE equipment is not just to put on a face mask; it’s helmets, steel toe-cap boots, googles, ear plugs, and much more.
What is PPE signage?
PPE signage is one of the many types of construction safety signs and informs visitors and employees as to what PPE they must wear in specific areas of the site. PPE signs are crucial for ensuring safety as well as complying with UK regulations. If you failed to provide adequate signage, and an accident occurred where the consequences could have been reduced or removed by the use of appropriate PPE, you could be vulnerable to legal repercussions.
PPE signage is a mandatory construction safety sign, meaning it relates to a positive action that must be taken to maintain safety. They are coloured blue and feature white writing and/or images. They may also be coupled with a yellow warning sign (to highlight a hazard relating to the use of PPE) or a red prohibition sign (pertaining to an action that must be avoided to maintain safety on site). An example of this would be helmet stickers or a High Levels Of Noise - Ear Protection Must Be Worn sign.
What are the PPE at work regulations?
The Personal Protective Equipment At Work PPE Regulations 1992 provides a great deal of detail as to the various types of PPE and the hazards/risks they relate to. It states that ‘every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.’ This means providing adequate PPE equipment to your employees is vital to avoiding non-compliance and protecting safety. In addition, the PPE at work regulations 1992 go on to insist that ‘the employer shall also ensure that the employee is provided with such information, instruction and training as is adequate and appropriate to enable the employee to know the risk or risks which the personal protective equipment will avoid or limit; the purpose for which and the manner in which personal protective equipment is to be used.’ This means it is the employer’s responsibility to install and maintain PPE signs, which will give information as to the types of PPE needed in specific areas of your construction site.
To learn more about the requirements of the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 (HSR) and the various uses of safety signs in your business, discover our guide to the different types of construction safety signs.
UK Safety Store exists to make safety simple for your business, allowing you to focus on what you do best and exceed your clients’ expectations. If you’d like to learn more, you can reference UK Safety Store’s construction resource hub, or read our guide to construction warning signs.
Darren Taylor, managing director of UK Safety Store
With over 30 years' experience in the manufacturing and regulations of safety signs, our managing director Darren prides himself on providing the very best services and insights for all UK Safety Store customers.