Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) describes anything worn on the person in order to reduce the risk of injury, although it can include extreme equipment such as explosive ordnance disposal suits, or specialized items such as sporting equipment. Generally, the term is used to describe items used in everyday life and industrial type applications.
The most common items are masks, goggles, gloves, and helmets, face cover mask along with a range of protective clothing proof against impacts, heat, chemicals, and contamination.
Most countries in the developed world have in place some sort of code relating to PPE, in particular relating to what items need to be provided in a work environment to ensure the safety of employees.
This is historically a fairly recent situation, as prior to the middle of the twentieth century very little protective gear was provided, resulting in many accidents and health problems. The developing world in many cases is still lacking the right legislation and adequate means and will ensure that personnel is adequately protected for the task they are completing.
The PPE itself is usually governed by a code, such as the British Kite Mark or the European CE classification, and the current international standard ISO coding.
These codes ensure that the protective equipment is actually adequate for the job it claims to be suitable for. In general, these codes have served to make PPE safer and more dependable, and although modern materials and manufacturing techniques make much Personal Protective Equipment cheap and readily available, there is still a cost involved which many people perceive as ‘avoidable’, and some sub-standard or counterfeit equipment can still be found.