Avoidance of hazards arising from combinations of personal protective equipment

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Many workplaces require different types of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used simultaneously, since protection is required at the same time against exposure to multiple hazards and/or for several parts of the body. The items of PPE used must therefore be mutually compatible and must not impair each other in their protective function. In some cases, the deterioration in the protection resulting from mutual influence between items of PPE is clearly evident. An example is the combination of goggles and a respiratory mask, or goggles and ear muffs. Accordingly, the employer will assess the compatibility of the PPE and the potential hazard presented by the simultaneous use of more than one item. This compilation of the observations made on the subject to date may be useful during risk assessment. The issue is more difficult in the case of complex mutual influences, such as the combination of PPE against falls from a height with a respiratory protective device. In such cases, the employer must be able to rely on the expertise of the manufacturers and of the testing and certifying bodies.

The table shows combinations of PPE the level of protection of which may be reduced as a result of mutual influence:

Type of PPE  
Head protection
  X X X         X
Eye and face protection
  X X X         X
Hearing protection
    X X     X    
Respiratory protective equipment
            X X X
Hand protection
        X   X    
Foot protection
Protective clothing
              X X
Equipment designed to prevent drowning
PPE against falls from a height

Further information


Liedtke; M.: Kombinationen Persönlicher Schutzausrüstung (PDF, 1.1 MB). Sicher ist sicher 64 (2013) No. 2, pp. 80-83

Liedtke, M.: Interactions by different types of PPE worn simultaneously (PDF, 2.9 MB). In: Mäki, S.; Mäkinen, H.: The situation in the PPE sector in light of the revision of the PPE Directive. 11th European Seminar on Personal Protective Equipment, 24-26 January 2012, Saariselkä, Finland. Seminar report, pp. 60-69. Ed.: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki 2012

Information on IFA tests of combinations of respiratory protective equipment, head protection and PPE against falls from a height (in German)


Dr Martin Liedtke
Division 4: Ergonomics, Physical environmental factors
Phone: +49 2241 231-2601
Fax: +49 2241 231-2234