Use of PPE in universities

The following are frequently asked questions on personal protective equipment (PPE) for universities.

Who is responsible for the provision of PPE for students?

  • Placements - Council of Deans advises that students on placement MUST be provided with suitable PPE by the placement provider
  • University setting - the responsibility of the university

What type of PPE should be used when teaching practical skills?

Please see our guidance on PPE, which will inform your risks assessments for  practical teaching.

The National IPC Covid-19: infection prevention and control guidance was updated on 21 August. It recommends the use of triage to stratify patients into low-, medium- and high-risk categories for Covid-19, and your choice of PPE is related to these categories. Please note that this guidance is for the health sector.

More detailed information  can be found via the government guidance on COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC) for health and social care workers.

In addition there is specific guidance for HEIs and the education sector.

On 15th October, government guidance was updated to note ""within teaching environments, HE providers should comply with the guidance on social distancing. Where practical work requires close contact (for example, medicine, dentistry, nursing), use of face coverings or other protection should be in line with the relevant professional environment."

The links to documents are provided as guidance may alter – this is the best way to ensure information is as up to date as possible.

Each HEI will need to carefully scrutinise the clinical skills and simulation scheduled and risk assess as to which PPE they feel is required.

A summary table is provided for information purposes and is taken from the health sector guidance.

Item of PPEIndicationExamples in practiceNotes

Exposure to

  • blood
  • bodily fluids
  • Consider sweat
  • Likely to be used in most cases
  • Single use
  • Do not double glove
ApronTo protect uniform / clothes when working within 2 metres of patientsLikely to be used in most casesSingle use
Gowns or coveralls

To protect uniform / clothes when working within 2 metres of patients and;

  • risk of extensive splashing of blood / body fluids
  • undertaking AGPs
  • apron not adequate
Risk assessChanged between patients unless sessional use is advised
Eye or face protection

To protect eyes and face from splashes of body fluids / blood

Risk assess
  • Corrective glasses not appropriate
  • Do not touch when in place
  • For use when risk of splashing or spraying from body fluids
  • When delivering direct care within 2 metres
 Well-fitting / cover nose and mouth
Surgical type maskFor extended use by healthcare workers in hospital or care setting Risk assess if adequate e.g. no splashing risk

Risk Assessments

  • Risk assessment of the practical activity  - this will follow your usual practice however it will be informed by COVID-19 precautions.
  • Risk assessments completed by each student


Teaching health care programmes have adopted the All Wales workforce risk assessment 


NHS Employers website provides information on risk assessment for staff 

Northern Ireland

A website which includes information for vulnerable groups. Note that each Trust has its own risk assessment form.

Additional information and Questions and Answers for HSC Staff is available here on their website.  


Occupational risk assessment guidance and tool for staff and managers published today: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on individual risk assessment for the workplace.

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