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Document 31989L0656

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

This Directive lays down minimum requirements for the assessment, selection and correct use of personal protective equipment. Priority must be given to collective safety measures.


Council Directive 89/656/EEC of 30 November 1989 on the minimum health and safety requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment at the workplace (third individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) [See amending acts].


Definition of the term "personal protective equipment": equipment designed to be worn or held by the worker to protect him against hazards encountered at work. A number of items are excluded from the definition, such as equipment used by emergency and rescue services, self-defence or deterrent equipment.

Such equipment must be used when the existing risks cannot be sufficiently limited by technical means of collective protection or work organisation procedures.

Employers' obligations

Personal protective equipment must comply with the relevant Community provisions on design and manufacture with respect to safety and health (see Directive 89/686/EEC) and with the conditions set out in the Directive. The employer must provide the appropriate equipment free of charge and ensure that it is in good working order and hygienic condition.

Assessment of personal protective equipment

Before choosing personal protective equipment, the employer is required to assess the extent to which it complies with the conditions set out in the Directive. This includes analysis of risks which cannot be avoided by other means and definition and comparison of the requisite characteristics of the equipment.

Rules for use

Member States shall ensure that general rules are established for the use of personal protective equipment and/or covering cases and situations where the employer must provide such equipment. There must be prior consultation with employers' and workers' organisations. Annexes to the Directive contain information for establishing such rules: specimen risk survey table (I), non-exhaustive list of items of personal protective equipment (II), non-exhaustive list of activities which may require the provision of personal protective equipment (III).

Information, consultation and participation of workers

Workers shall be informed of all measures to be taken. Consultation and participation shall take place on the matters covered by the Directive.

Technical adjustments in the Annexes shall be adopted by the Commission assisted by a committee (Article 17, Directive 89/391/EEC).



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 89/656/EEC



OJ L 393 of 30.12.89

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2007/30/EC



OJ L 165 of 27.6.2007


Commission Communication for the implementation of Council Directive 89/656/EEC, concerning the assessment of the safety aspects of personal protective equipment with a view to the choice and use thereof (Official Journal C 328 of 20.12.1989).

The non-exhaustive supplementary information in the annex covers the criteria to be taken into account in selecting and using the main types of personal protective equipment, and assessment of the risk to be covered and those arising from the equipment and use thereof.

The Commission requests Member States to ensure widespread circulation of the data so that they may serve as reference documents during implementation of Council Directive 89/656/EEC.

The annex lists nine main types of protective equipment: industrial helmets, goggles and visors, ear protectors, respirators, gloves, boots and shoes, protective clothing, lifejackets for industrial use and protection against falls.

Last updated: 28.03.2008