17 min read

Personal protective equipment

Last updated March 2022

This chapter explains how to meet your health and safety obligations in relation to personal protective equipment (PPE), and how PPE can reduce exposure to health and safety risks.

What is personal protective equipment?

Definition: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is specialised clothing worn by workers or equipment used to minimise exposure to workplace hazards to reduce the risk of illness or injury.

Examples of PPE and situations in which workers require that PPE are shown in the following table:

Type of PPE Examples When required
Protective garments High-visibility vests, rubber aprons, lab coats When workers could be splashed by hazardous substances, such as chemicals.

When workers are conducting work at night or near roads or traffic, or where mobile plant may be present.
Eye protection Face shields, goggles, safety glasses, sunglasses When there is a risk of foreign particles entering the eye.

When working outdoors.

When using cutting or welding equipment.

When exposed to potential airborne viruses like COVID-19.

When workers could be exposed to UV light.
Head protection Hard hats, helmets When workers are exposed to risks of falling objects.

When workers are exposed to a fall risk or working in a confined space where an accidental head injury could occur.
Respiratory devices Oxygen tanks, air-supplied respirators When working with toxic chemicals, including paints, thinners, and insect and weed sprays.

When entering a confined space.
Protective footwear Steel-capped boots When workers are working in a workshop or close to heavy equipment.
Face protection Face masks When workers are at risk of injury to their face from small particles or projectiles, e.g. when undertaking welding work.
Skin protection Long-sleeved shirts, gloves When workers are exposed to the risk of a hand injury, e.g. handling chemicals or using cutting tools.
Hearing protection Earplugs, earmuffs When workers are exposed to high noise levels (over 85 decibels), e.g. working near loud machinery