4 - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) (2002 as amended) regulations and Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) legislate that employers must provide PPE which gives you adequate protection against the risks associated with the task being undertaken.

Employees also have a responsibility under these laws which is to make sure that they wear the correct PPE for the task they are doing and wear it correctly.  

PPE products you might need in the care home

  • Gloves
  • Aprons
  • Masks
  • Eye Protection

Deciding which PPE to use:

Before doing any procedure or task you need to:

think about or find out if you could be exposed or come into contact with blood and/or other body fluids (BBF); and

make sure that the PPE worn gives you enough protection against the risks associated with the procedure or task you are doing. 

Examples of potential risks are:  

All PPE should be:

located close to the point of use

stored in a clean and dry area to prevent contamination until needed for use;

within expiry dates;

single-use only items unless specified by the manufacturer;

changed immediately after individual use and/or following completion of a procedure or task;

disposed of after use into the correct waste stream i.e. healthcare waste or domestic waste.

Reusable PPE items, for example non-disposable goggles, face shields and visors, must have a decontamination schedule with responsibility assigned.

Gloves must be:

Photo of someone wearing glovesworn when it is likely that you will be exposed to blood and/or other body fluids (BBF);

worn when undertaking an invasive procedure

appropriate for use, fit for purpose and well-fitting. The glove selection chart can help you select the correct glove;

changed immediately after each individual and/or following completion of a procedure or task;

changed if damaged or a perforation or puncture is suspected.

Using gloves reduces the risk of contamination but does not remove it all. Gloves should not be used instead of carrying out hand hygiene.

Gloves should never be decontaminated or cleaned with ABHR or by washing with cleaning products.

Choose the correct gloves

Use the glove selection chart to support you to select the correct glove type.

Select image for full size version

Aprons must be worn:

Photo of someone wearing an apron

by care staff when there is a risk of clothing being contaminated with blood or other body fluids;

during direct care, bed-making or when undertaking the decontamination of equipment;

when delivering food and/or supporting residents with nutrition.



Eye/face protection (including full face visors) must:

Photo of person wearing a mask and visor

be worn if blood and/or body fluid contamination to the eyes/face is expected/likely;

not be touched when worn.

Facial accessories such as piercings or false eyelashes must not be worn when using eye/face protection;

Regular glasses or safety glasses are not considered eye protection.

Fluid Resistant Type IIR surgical face masks must be:

Person wearing surgial face mask

worn if splashing or spraying of blood, body fluids, secretions or excretions onto the respiratory mucosa (nose and mouth) is expected/likely;

a full face visor may be used as an alternative to fluid resistant Type IIR surgical face masks to protect against splash or spray, however:

well-fitting, fully covering the mouth and nose and fit for purpose, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure effective fit/protection.

removed or changed;

Putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) - donning

Always perform hand hygiene before putting on PPE.

The order for putting on PPE is:

  1. Apron or Gown
  2. Surgical Mask
  3. Eye Protection (where required)
  4. Gloves

Taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) - doffing

The order for taking off PPE is:

  1. Gloves
  2. Apron or Gown
  3. Eye Protection
  4. Surgical Mask

Always carry out hand hygiene immediately after taking off PPE.

All PPE should be removed before leaving the area and disposed of as healthcare waste.


A poster showing the order for putting on and removing PPE is available to print.

Select image for full size version

Putting on and taking off PPE step by step



Read the PPE literature review to find out more about the evidence base for PPE use.