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What is PPE

Introduction to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, has become an integral component in the discourse of workplace safety. Many workplaces feature an array of PPE symbols, yet not everyone is aware of what PPE entails. In the realm of health and safety, what significance does PPE hold?

In this short guide we aim to unpack the nuances of PPE and emphasize its role in ensuring a safe work environment. Effective management of PPE not only bolsters employee safety but also contributes to a reduction in operational costs and more efficient time management.

Defining PPE

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) comprises any apparatus or gear designed to safeguard the wearer from health and safety hazards present in the workplace. Its primary function is to shield specific parts of the body during hazardous work operations.

A lot of industries work with PPE. Any profession that includes potentially hazardous work often incorporates (compulsory) PPE. Industries where the use of PPE is prevalent are, for example; construction, rope access, oil & gas and emergency services.

Examples of PPE include:

  • hard hats
  • ear protection
  • high visibility clothing
  • safety footwear and safety harnesses
  • thermal, weather and waterproof clothing
  • respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

The Language of PPE Symbols

Work environments often display various symbols indicating the necessity of specific PPE. For instance, signs demanding the wear of safety boots or helmets might be familiar to many.

The clarity and precision of these symbols are paramount. Employers bear the onus of complying with PPE regulations and ensuring the safety of their workforce. Here are a few symbol examples to illustrate:

PPE symbols 1
PPE symbols 2
PPE symbols 3

Often used examples of PPE symbols.

The Role of PPE in Health and Safety

Both employers and employees share the obligation to uphold laws and standards concerning the procurement, application, and upkeep of equipment. When discussing PPE in health and safety, it encompasses these duties alongside the actual equipment pieces.

Effective PPE management is multifaceted, transcending merely wearing the protective items. Introduction or alteration of PPE protocols necessitates addressing several crucial aspects:

  • Document a comprehensive history of each equipment piece.
  • Conduct and record routine PPE inspections.
  • Ascertain that employees are equipped with appropriate PPE for their roles.
  • Provide employees with detailed guidelines on equipment usage.
  • Confirm that onsite PPE meets certification standards and is ready for deployment.

It’s noteworthy that, often, some of these crucial factors are inadvertently overlooked due to a lack of streamlined workflows or adequate administrative tools. Overlooking these can lead to heightened operational expenses and, more critically, potential threats to worker safety.


Effective PPE management transcends mere acquisition. It demands meticulous documentation and maintenance of every PPE item. To assist organizations in meeting regulatory benchmarks and fortifying employee safety, we built Inventar. This platform enables seamless equipment registration, inspection, and deployment, concurrently providing employees with an informative database on optimal PPE usage.