Every job comes with a degree of risk however, in certain occupations working with hazardous materials or in dangerous conditions is much more common.
Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE as it is generally known, is as a measure to protect employees from a wide range of potentially dangerous materials or activities in the workplace.
PPE can range from hard hats, specialised clothing or masks that might only be used in certain scenarios. Even though in many workplaces, PPE is vital to protect an employee from harm, where does the onus lie on providing this equipment? Is it up to the employer, or is it the employee themselves?
Does an Employer Have To Provide PPE?
The law is fairly straightforward for the most part when it comes to Personal Protective Equipment. There are even regulations called the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (1992) that set this out quite clearly.
“Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.” (Regulation 4)
So, if the risk to health and safety cannot be nullified without using PPE, then an employer needs to provide certain equipment to their workers. Furthermore, if we look at Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), an employer can’t charge for PPE if it is only used for the purposes of work, so an employee should never have to pay for hard hats or certain protective clothing if it is necessary to keep them safe whilst doing their job.
What About Agency Workers & the Self-Employed?
There are many misconceptions when it comes to agency workers and PPE.
Some employers don’t technically class agency workers as employees; however, even though they are paid by an agency as soon as they commence work, they are deemed an employee and have to be supplied with PPE the same as everyone else.
Self-employed workers are a little bit different. Unless the person who is self-employed is solely working with one employer on a full-time basis, then they have to provide their own PPE that meets the required standard of that workplace.
Personal Protective Equipment has a broad scope and covers a wide range of different things that are designed to keep workers safe.
The HSE have a guide on PPE that looks at what types of equipment are required in certain situations. In addition to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022) which extend employers’ and employees’ duties regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) to limb (b) workers.
Have you ever had problems with getting PPE at work? What about if you were an agency worker? Let us know!