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Personal Protective Equipment at Work

Updated: Jan 2

The most important asset of any business is not the building or the brand, but the staff. If you employ workers in an environment where there may be a risk to their health and safety, you are legally required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep them safe at work. PPE is designed in response to external hazards whether they be physical, chemical, airborne, electrical or heat.

An Employers’ responsibility to workers regarding the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is extending from 6 April 2022, to include ‘limb workers’.

Generally, workers who come under the definition of ‘limb’ workers:

  • Carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations

  • After 1 month of continuous service, receive holiday pay but not other employment rights such as the minimum period of statutory notice

  • Only carry out work if they choose to

  • Have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (the contract doesn’t have to be written) and only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work, for example swapping shifts with someone on a pre-approved list (subcontracting)

  • Are not in business for themselves (they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly)

Please note: These changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self-employed’ status as confirmed by the government’s CEST tool.

PPE can include items such as protective clothing, safety helmets and hard hats, gloves, eye protection, hearing protection, respiratory protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. PPE should be worn as a last resort whenever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other ways. The type of equipment required will depend on a range of factors, including the working environment, the hazards faced and the specific roles being carried out.

By 6 April 2022, you need to ensure that there is no difference in the way PPE is provided to your workers, as defined by PPER 2022. The need for PPE must be identified through risk assessment. As with all risk assessments, those carrying them out must be competent to do so and have the necessary knowledge and experience of the methods of work. If a PPE Suitability Assessment indicates the need for PPE, employers must provide the required equipment to casual workers free of charge as they do for employees. All worksites should be given a safety assessment to identify hazards that will inform the type of PPE required. Employers must ensure it is fit for purpose, that staff are trained on how to use it and that equipment is maintained, repaired and replaced when necessary.

HSE has full guidance on the revised regulations. However, we know that to identify whether your workforce may be impacted by the changes is not always easy, and that having professional guidance and support through change is beneficial to some organisations.

Check out other Blogs in our series:

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The content of our blogs is intended for general information only and does not replace legal or other professional advice.

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