Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the Warehouse and in Intralogistics

According to the PPE Usage Ordinance, personal protective equipment is used by employees to protect themselves against hazards to their health and safety by using or wearing it; this also includes appropriate additional equipment. On the one hand, hazards can emanate from substances and materials with which one is directly or indirectly confronted during work, and on the other hand, for example, work processes and spatial conditions at the workplace can also pose a hazard. PPE is intended to minimize or even completely eliminate residual hazards at the personal level. Personal protective equipment must be provided by the employer.

PPE and the STOP principle

The European Union’s Occupational Health and Safety Framework Directive 89/391/EEC is implemented in Germany by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The risk assessment specified therein is intended to evaluate working conditions. This not only includes hazards due to chemical, physical and biological effects; instead, it also considers how work processes, work and production methods and their interaction result in possible hazards, as well as inadequate instruction and qualification of employees. The risk assessment must be carried out for each workplace or activity.

The STOP principle can be derived from the EU framework directive and the respective national laws. It is also referred to as the STOP hierarchy, ranking or sequence, as the relevance of the individual points determines the order of implementation. This means that a hierarchy or sequence must be observed when selecting protective measures on the basis of the preceding risk assessment. Personal protective equipment is the last point in the hierarchy. This means that PPE must be selected and used after the other three points of the STOP principle have been fully taken into account. All four points are as follows:
S as in substitution
T for Technology
O for Organization
P for Personal Measures or Person-Related Measures
Substitution means that a hazard factor is replaced by something that does not pose a hazard or reduces the hazard potential.
Technical measures serve to separate people from the hazard. This can be done spatially, for example, or by devices that accomplish this. Here, too, there is an order of priority according to effectiveness. For example, if a machine generates a harmful gas during its operation, an attempt should first be made to keep the system closed so that the gas cannot escape and remains separated from the machine operators. Less effective would be the next option of exhausting the gas at the machine. The least effective measure would then still be to provide ventilation and aeration of the workplace.
Organizational protective measures include, for example, maintenance plans for machines, working time regulations or operating instructions.
Personal measures include various items of personal protective equipment on the one hand and the provision of instruction within the workforce on the other.

A combination of individual measures, also and in particular of the various hierarchies, is not only possible, but often also mandatory. For example, a technical measure is only of lasting safety in combination with an organizational measure in the form of a maintenance plan.

Simplified example of the STOP principle:

A factory hall has a gallery at a height of three meters, which is used to store small parts that are rarely needed. The gallery could previously only be reached via a ladder. The risk assessment showed that the danger of falling from the ladder is very high, so the following measures were taken:
– The ladder is replaced by a permanently installed staircase. (Substitution)
– A high railing including a handrail is installed on the stairs to prevent falling. (Technical measure)
– It is stipulated in the operating instructions that the stairs may only be climbed if one hand remains on the handrail and that the stairs may only be climbed by one person at a time. (Organization)
– The warehouse staff is instructed on how to use the stairs when something is needed from the gallery. In addition, the stairs may only be accessed when non-slip safety shoes and rubber gloves with a good grip are worn to prevent slipping from the stairs. (Personal measures through instruction and PPE).

What does PPE protect and what does PPE protect against?

On the one hand, personal protective equipment protects individual parts of the body from damage and, on the other hand, it protects against comprehensive hazards such as suffocation, drowning or falls and crashes. This results in various protective areas such as: respiratory protection, head protection, eye protection, hearing protection, foot protection, stab protection, skin protection and protective clothing in general. Personal emergency signal systems, consisting of portable personal emergency signal devices in connection with a personal emergency signal receiving center, are also part of personal protective equipment.

Personal protective equipment on a table - shoes - helmet - goggles - vest - respiratory protection - hearing protection - AdobeStock_369756124
Common personal protective equipment in industrial and intralogistics processes.

Common PPE in intralogistics

Even in the warehouse and in intralogistics in general, not all risks can be prevented or sufficiently minimized by substitution, technology and organization, which is why appropriate PPE must be worn. In general, however, work processes must be safe, which depends on the specific work environment and the substances and materials present there. For example, PPE is of a different nature in oily working conditions than in humid ones. In general, the following PPE in particular is used in intralogistics areas:
Head protection (These are primarily all types of hard hats that provide effective protection against falling objects and against head injuries in the event of falls).
Eye protection (visors on hard hats and goggles that prevent the eyes from coming into contact with solid particles or chemical substances; however, ultraviolet radiation and aerosols and gases are also among the hazards to be avoided here)
Hearing protection (earplugs and other equipment that attenuate personal noise levels)
Hand protection (safety gloves that provide adequate grip in oily, dry, or wet conditions, plus protection from bruises, burns, cuts, or stings)
Foot protection (protection from falling objects as well as stepping on sharp objects. In addition, also reduce foot fatigue and prevent foot diseases caused by standing or walking for long periods of time).
Protective clothing (special clothing that protects against burns, burns, cuts, stings, and other harmful effects; but also clothing that serves primarily to increase visibility such as brightly lit or brightly reflective vests)

Important criteria for the use of PPE

– Personal protective equipment must be provided by the employer at the work site ready to function.
– The PPE selected on the basis of the risk assessment must be worn for the relevant activity or at the relevant workplace.
– The PPE must correspond to the state of the art, i.e. it must not be outdated, and it must have the CE marking. This ensures that the hazard during the activity is minimized to a low residual risk. This includes not only the technical properties of the PPE, such as cut resistance in the case of safety gloves, but also other criteria such as ergonomic aspects (accuracy of fit, fit, weight, manageability).
– PPE may only be in use as long as its functional capability and thus its protective effect remains.
– A sufficient quantity of personal protective equipment must be available.
– Depending on the PPE in question, it must also be maintained. Accordingly, this is carried out by the users themselves or by external specialist companies.
– PPE must be subjected to a visual or functional inspection by the users, which takes place before each use and is intended to detect any apparent defects.


In a warehouse and in intralogistics in general, many hazards in everyday work can be avoided or minimized primarily by means of personal protective equipment (PPE). Based on a risk assessment, PPE must be provided by the employer and worn by the employee. It protects users from a single risk or several different risks that endanger their health and safety. In a sequence of measures also known as the STOP principle, PPE is the final means to be implemented at a personal or person-related level.



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