The Different Types of PPE

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes helmets, safety goggles, gloves, high-visibility clothing and more.

PPE clothing protects workers from different hazards, so you must choose the right type to protect workers properly and cover the relevant areas of the body. 

A work uniform is not classed as PPE, but certain clothing may be required for workers if a risk assessment shows you should provide protective equipment.

Follow our guide as we take you through the different types of PPE clothing and what they are used for.

What items of clothing are considered PPE?

Types of personal protective equipment (PPE)

What are the types of PPE?

Ear Protection

PPE ear protection is designed to protect the wearer from high noise levels and against long exposure to noise.

Ear protection options include ear muffs, ear plugs and ear defenders, which provide varying levels of protection to suit different workplaces. 

  • Ear muffs and defenders completely cover the ear.
  • Ear plugs are inserted into the ear canal.

They’re most suitable for construction work, factory engineering and airport workers. Avoid protectors that reduce the noise levels to below 70 decibels, as this can prevent the wearer from hearing warning signals or important communication, which is a safety risk.

PPE ear muffs

Eye Protection

Eye protection protects eyes from dust, dirt, debris, and chemical or metal splashes. Safety glasses should be adjustable to fit the individual worker and provide sufficient coverage. It should be comfortable and allow for clear forward and peripheral vision.

There are several types of eye protection, each designed to offer different levels of protection with various grades of optical classes.

  • Safety glasses are similar to regular glasses but have tougher, more durable lenses.
  • Safety goggles fit tight against the face to offer all-around protection. 

Eye protection is used for workers handling hazardous substances which risk being splashed, working with power tools or welding operations. Therefore, lab workers, welders and builders will be the workers who most need them. 

PPE safety sunglasses

Safety helmets and headwear

PPE headwear includes hard hats, bump caps, and face shields to protect the wearer from accidents and head injuries. Hard hats and safety helmets protect against falling or moving objects in construction or forestry jobs. Bump caps protect workers, like mechanics, from hitting their heads on a stationary object. 

  • Hard hats are designed to protect ground-level workers from falling or moving objects.
  • Safety helmets could be required when working at heights or when there is a higher risk of falling.
  • Face shields protect the wearer’s entire face, and safety glasses can be worn underneath.
  • Bump caps protect workers against smaller impacts where they may bump their heads against a stationary object.

Our headwear options offer replaceable sweatbands, vents and side-impact protection for safety, comfort and balance. You can also find various colour options to suit your industry’s regulations.

PPE helmet


Work gloves are worn to cover and protect hands and wrists from potential hazards at work. There are various types of PPE gloves for different industries, including gripper gloves, cut-resistant gloves, PU gloves, thermal work gloves and chemical-resistant gloves.

Safety gloves are made with different materials, including latex and nitrile, and offer various levels of cut resistance, thermal protection and grip depending on the nature of your work.

  • Gripper gloves have textured palms for a strong hold on dry, wet or oily tools and materials.
  • Cut-resistant gloves protect against cuts, abrasions or slashes with various levels to suit your industry.
  • Thermal gloves have a thermal liner to protect against harsh weather conditions for outdoor work.
  • Chemical-resistant gloves protect workers from chemicals.
  • Disposable gloves prevent the spread of infection in hospitals or food preparation.

PPE gloves are used across various industries, from welding and construction to medical and food preparation. More than one type of glove may be suitable for your industry, depending on the varied nature of your work.

PPE gloves

High-visibility clothing

High-visibility clothing has highly reflective properties to ensure workers are seen in low-light or dark environments. It can help reduce the risk of worker injury or fatality by allowing motorists and equipment operators to see workers more clearly when working at night. 

Hi-vis clothing is usually worn by road construction workers, rail workers, airport workers, event security and waste collection workers.

  • High-visibility jackets are equipped with reflective tape on the body and shoulders.
  • High-visibility trousers have reflective tape on the legs with adjustable waists for a comfortable fit.
  • High-visibility overalls and coveralls offer full-body protection with hooded options and bibs and braces available

With different EN ratings across our range, you can find hi-vis clothing to suit many industry certification requirements. We also offer high-visibility PPE clothing in different colours to suit your industry standards.

Hi-vis overalls

Face coverings

PPE face coverings include dust and respirator masks, providing clean and safe air for those working in potentially hazardous conditions. They protect the worker by stopping harmful particles from passing through specialist filters contained within disposable or reusable units.

  • Dust masks relieve non-toxic dust irritation and are effective against pollen, dust and other non-toxic particles.
  • Respirators protect against fine toxic dust fumes and water-based mists.
  • Fabric masks can be washed and reused for general workplace use.

Choose from disposable or reusable units, various protection levels and fitting types, depending on your needs and preferences. 

White PPE face mask

Knee Protection

Whether your job involves kneeling for long periods or on hard, cold surfaces, knee pads, inserts and protection mats are vital to protect against knee and joint pain. 

  • Knee pads include anti-slip materials and adjustable straps for maximum support.
  • Knee inserts can be inserted into cargo trousers to comfort the knees.
  • Knee protection mats can be laid on the floor to quickly and easily protect knees.

Useful for various trades, including electricians and plumbers, knee pads protect workers kneeling on uneven floors or rubble-covered floors. They also provide insulation against cold floors to prevent heat loss when kneeling for a prolonged period.

Knee pads in black


Overalls offer protection from head to toe against chemicals, bad weather, sparks, dirt and more. Different types of overalls offer various levels of protection, depending on your industry needs.

  • Overalls cover arms, legs and torsos for protection with waterproof, high-visibility and flame-resistant options.
  • Bib and brace overalls protect the legs and torso, covering the wearer during dirty jobs like painting and decorating, and have multiple pockets for tools

PPE overalls suit various professions, including mechanics, railroad workers, engineers, welders, builders and painters. 

Waterproof and heatproof clothing

PPE clothing is not only designed to protect different parts of the body but is also made with different materials to protect against different hazards. 

  • Waterproof clothing protects against wet weather for those working outdoors, like rail workers or road workers.
  • Flame retardant workwear protects against flames, other heat sources and electrostatic discharge hazards. 

Our selection of PPE clothing includes waterproof and flame-retardant styles suitable for outdoor workers or those exposed to heat.

Flame-retardant heatproof

Shop our selection of PPE workwear

Protecting workers is vital to ensure they can carry out their duties safely. Consider the nature of the tasks and conduct a risk assessment to choose the PPE needed to protect your workers.

Our PPE selection at Activewear Group includes industry-leading brands like Portwest and Blackrock, so you can be sure you’re getting quality PPE that will keep you and your employees safe. Explore the full collection today.


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