03 365 0088
personal protective equipment new zealand

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE, " is worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards.

What is personal protective equipment? 

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE, " is worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE). PPE must be properly looked after and stored when not in use, e.g., in a dry, clean cupboard.   

When to use PPE? 

The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provides protection for workers when all other control measures can’t adequately eliminate or minimise risks to a worker’s health and safety. 
PPE should only be used as a last line of defence after all other reasonably practicable actions have been taken to eliminate or minimise risks. 
Risks must be managed firstly by elimination, or if this is not reasonably practicable, through minimisation. You can minimise risk by using substitution, isolation, or engineering control measures. If it is not reasonably practicable to minimise using those control measures, you can use administrative controls, and then, PPE to reduce any remaining risks to workers’ health and safety. 

Why is PPE important?

Making the workplace safe includes providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.  Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain. These include injuries to: 

  • the lungs, e.g., from breathing in contaminated air
  • the head and feet, e.g., from falling materials 
  • the eyes, e.g., from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids 
  • the skin, e.g., from contact with corrosive materials 
  • the body, e.g., from extremes of heat or cold 

PPE is needed in these cases to reduce the risk. 

Types of PPE you can use: 

  • Head Protection (Safety Helmets & Hard Hats): - to be worn where a person may: 
    • Be struck on the head by a falling object
    • Strike head against a fixed object
    • Make inadvertent head contact with electrical hazards 
  • Eye Protection (Safety spectacles, goggles, shields, visors): - Provided where a risk of eye injury exists. Typical hazards might include flying particles, dust, splashing substances, harmful gases, vapours, aerosols, and high intensity radiation from welding operations or lasers.  
  • Hearing Protection (Ear plugs, earmuffs, helmets with integrated hearing protection): - Provided where a risk of noise induced hearing loss exists. The need for hearing protection shall be assessed from the conduct of noise surveys in potential noise hazard areas.  
  • Respiratory Protection (Face masks, half face respirators, air filter units, self-contained breathing apparatus): - Provided, after all other practicable measures have been taken to provide control measures, to ensure that no staff member is exposed to an atmosphere that is or may be injurious to health.   
  • Hand Protection (Protective Gloves (wrist or elbow length, cotton, rubber, PVC leather, stainless steel mesh): - Provided where there is an identified hazard associated with a potential for hand injury. A list of hazards shall be compiled for each workplace and suitable hand protection obtained to minimise risk.   
  • Foot Protection (Steel capped boots, nonslip shoes, waterproof boots): - Provided where the nature of the work exposes the employee to a medium to high risk of injury to feet, e.g., occupations such as workshop/maintenance and gardening staff.  
  • Body Protection (Laboratory coats, heat resistant aprons, waterproof jackets, sunscreen, repellent, Sunhats): - Laboratory coats protect against accidental spills, e.g., acids. In this case, they usually have long sleeves and are made of absorbent material, such as cotton, so that the user can be protected from the chemical. Provided for staff who are required to work outdoors and are exposed to the sun's rays for continuous periods in a day. Direct exposure of the skin to UV radiation from outdoor work shall be minimised by providing hats, long sleeves/trousers and an adequate supply of sunscreen.   
  • Fall Protection (Belts, harnesses, pole straps, supports, tennis elbow braces): - Provided where there is a risk a falling or where there is a legislated requirement.    

Discussion Points:  

  • PPE must be clean and in good condition, whether it is a Hi Vis, work shirt, trousers or wet weather gear. Clean and tidy PPE is a direct representation of yourself and the company.  
  • Instruct and train people how to use PPE e.g., removal of gloves without contaminating skin. 
  • Employees are to use PPE correctly and report its loss, destruction or any fault.  
  • Do maintain PPE in a clean sanitary, serviceable condition.  
  • Do not use PPE without proper training in its use and limitations. 
  • Do not use damaged or inferior equipment. 
  • Other types of PPE may include (but is not limited to) overalls, full face protection, disposable clothing, other clothing including aprons, leggings, jackets, safety harnesses and fall arresters, welding masks etc. Other forms of PPE should be worn in accordance with manufacturers guidelines for their use and/or guidelines issued by product manufacturers where PPE is recommended (for example: hazardous substances, asbestos)