Latest update: 19/03/2021

Directive 89/656/EEC - use of personal protective equipment

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)


This Directive lays down minimum requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) used by workers at work.


Definition of the term “personal protective equipment”.


Personal protective equipment must be used when the risks cannot be avoided or sufficiently limited by technical means of collective protection or procedures of work organization.

Employers' obligations

Personal protective equipment must comply with the relevant Community provisions on design and manufacture with respect to safety and health.

All personal protective equipment must

  • be appropriate for the risks involved, without itself leading to any increased risk
  • correspond to existing conditions at the workplace
  • take account of ergonomic requirements and the worker's state of health
  • fit the wearer correctly after any necessary adjustment.

The employer must provide the appropriate equipment free of charge and must ensure that it is in good working order and hygienic condition.

Where the presence of more than one risk makes it necessary for a worker to wear simultaneously more than one item of personal protective equipment, such equipment must be compatible.

Personal protective equipment is, in principle, intended for personal use. If the circumstances require personal protective equipment to be worn by more than one person, appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure that such use does not create any health or hygiene problem for the different users.

Before choosing personal protective equipment, the employer is required to assess whether the personal protective equipment he intends to use satisfies the requirements of this Directive.

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.

Employer shall organize training and demonstrate the use of PPE. Workers shall be informed of all measures to be taken. Consultation and participation shall take place on the matters covered by this Directive.

Moreover, the provisions of Directive 89/391/EEC - "the Framework Directive" - are fully applicable without prejudice to more restrictive and/or specific provisions contained in this Directive.

Member States shall comply with the amendments to Annexes I, II and III by 20 November 2021 at the latest (see Commission Directive 2019/1832/EU).


Annex I: Risks in Relation to the Body Parts to be Protected by PPE

Annex II: Non-Exhaustive List of Types of Personal Protective Equipment with Regard to the Risks They Provide Protection Against

Annex III: Non-Exhaustive List of Activities and Sectors of Activity Which May Require the Provision of Personal Protective Equipment

Read the full text of the consolidated version of the Directive (including later amendments)

Read the full text of the original Directive (without amendments)

National laws implementing this Directive

Further information on this topic

See also further documents of the European Commission on that topic:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the practical implementation of the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Directives 89/391 (Framework), 89/654 (Workplaces), 89/655 (Work Equipment), 89/656 (Personal Protective Equipment), 90/269 (Manual Handling of Loads) and 90/270 (Display Screen Equipment)

Commission communication in the framework of the implementation of the Council Directive 89/686/EEC of 21 December 1989 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to personal protective equipment (Publication of titles and references of harmonised standards under the directive)

Evaluation of the Practical Implementation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Directives in EU Member States - Directive on the minimum health and safety requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment at the workplace (2017)