What is the difference between personal and collective protective equipment (PPE/CPE)?

6 January 2023

It is important to ensure the protection of your employees while they are working. This is the role of personal protective equipment and collective protective equipment… But each in its own way! 

What is collective protective equipment (CPE)?

Collective protective equipment (CPE) is equipment that protects the safety and health of workers by acting as far as possible on the source of the hazard. It is installed before the start of the task and does not require the direct intervention of the worker.

It is based on 4 principles:

Protection by distancing (e.g. marking out)
Protection by attenuation of a nuisance (e.g. soundproofing)
Protection by obstacle (e.g. guardrail)
Protection by consignment

What is personal protective equipment (PPE)?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is equipment worn or held by the worker to protect his or her health and safety.

There are 3 categories of PPE:

  • Category 1: PPE protecting against a minimal risk (e.g. gloves)
  • Category 2: PPE protecting against a major risk (e.g. helmet)
  • Category 3: PPE that protects against a fatal or irreversible risk (e.g. lifejacket)

PPE and EPC are complementary and both fulfil the same purpose: to protect the health and safety of workers. The former is equipment to be worn or held, the latter is a fixed installation. 

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