Individual protective equipment (IPE)

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    The following shall be considered as IPE

    Any equipment intended to be worn or held by the worker for the purpose of protecting him against one or more hazards likely to threaten his safety or health at work, as well as any complement or accessory intended for that purpose, with the exception of

    1. ordinary work clothing and uniforms which are not specifically intended to protect the safety and health of the worker;
    2. IPE specific to the military, police and law enforcement services;
    3. IPE for road transport;
    4. sports equipment;
    5. self-defense or deterrence equipment;
    6. portable hazard and nuisance detection and warning equipment.


    Where the risks inherent in the work cannot be eliminated at the source or sufficiently limited by measures, methods or procedures of work organisation, or by technical means of collective protection, IPE shall be used.

    All IPE must in all cases:

    1. be appropriate to the risks to be prevented, without itself creating an increased risk;
    2. meet the existing conditions in the workplace;
    3. take into account the ergonomic, comfort and health requirements of the worker;
    4. be suitable for the wearer, after any necessary adjustments.

    It must meet the construction requirements specified in Regulation 2016/425 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on personal protective equipment. Where the design and construction of add-ons or accessories fall outside the scope of EU legislation, the employer shall ensure that they are manufactured in accordance with the most appropriate and recognised rules of good practice.

    The employer shall determine the conditions under which the CPE is to be used, taking into account the severity of the damage, the frequency of exposure and the duration of exposure to the hazards.

    When carrying out the risk analysis and determining the conditions of use, the employer shall seek the advice of the prevention advisor competent in the field of occupational safety, as well as that of the prevention advisor/occupational physician responsible for the workers’ health surveillance.

    Using IPE

    IPE may only be used for its intended purpose and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

    IPE are in principle intended for personal use.

    The employer must ensure at his own expense the provision, maintenance, cleaning, disinfection, repair and timely renewal of IPE.

    He shall ensure that workers use IPE effectively and correctly.

    In principle, IPE must remain in the company or in the place where they are used. Therefore, workers may not take IPE home with them, except where workers are part of travelling teams or are employed in places so far away from the company that they do not return regularly, and provided that the work in which the IPE are used does not involve any risk of contamination or infection.

    Worker information and training

    The employer shall take the necessary measures to ensure that workers are provided with sufficient information and instructions concerning the IPE used at work.

    The information and instructions must be in writing and be understandable to the workers concerned.

    The general information booklet shall contain all relevant information relating to:

    1. the various types of IPE used or which may be used in the company or establishment;
    2. the risks against which the IPE protects the worker;
    3. the conditions of use of IPE;
    4. the foreseeable abnormal situations that may arise;
    5. the conclusions drawn from the experience gained in using the IPE.

    The instruction manual drawn up for each type of IPE used in the company contains useful information on:

    1. their operation;
    2. their method of use;
    3. their inspection;
    4. maintenance and storage;
    5. the expiry date.

    The general information booklet and the instruction manuals are, if necessary, completed by the prevention advisor responsible for occupational safety and by the prevention advisor/occupational physician.

    They shall be signed by the prevention advisor responsible for the management of the internal service or, as the case may be, the department of the internal service.

    The employer shall provide training and, if necessary, organise courses in the use of IPE.


    All types of IPE

    The employer is obliged to take the necessary measures to ensure that a member of the hierarchy or another worker who has received a specific mandate for this purpose and who has the necessary training, ensures that the IPE always complies with the legal requirements at each use.

    If the complexity of the examinations is such that they can only be carried out by a specialised  person, the employer may, of course, consult other specialised  or particularly competent services or institutions for carrying out such examinations.

    The examinations shall be carried out in accordance with the inspection instructions set out in the IPE manufacturer's manual.

    IPE against falls from a height

    IPE against falls from a height must meet the conditions laid down in the Code.

    These IPE are subject to an examination by an external service for technical inspection (ESTI) at the workplace, authorised for the inspection of lifting equipment:

    • For permanently attached IPE: whenever the IPE in question has restrained a person during a fall;
    • For non-permanently attached IPE: at least every 12 months and every time the IPE in question has restrained a person during a fall.

    The ESTI shall draw up a report of its findings.

    This report states, among other things, that any equipment that no longer has sufficient safety qualities must be taken out of service. The examinations are carried out in accordance with the inspection instructions set out in the IPE manufacturer's information booklet.

    The employer shall keep the report at the disposal of the occupational health and safety inspection.

    For foreign employers, account may be taken of organisational structures abroad that are equivalent to Belgian structures. A foreign employer must therefore call on an ESTI authorised in Belgium unless he can prove that he can call on an equivalent service that meets the same conditions as the Belgian one and that can ensure that he complies with the Belgian legal obligations.

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