Hazards exist in every workplace, making strategies to protect workers essential.
And when workplace hazards have been eliminated, personal protective equipment is a worker's last defence against injury and death.
Employers have basic duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment at work.
What is Personal Protective Equipment?
PPE is defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as equipment intended to be worn or held by a person at work which protects against one or more risks to their health.
It includes safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.Do employers have to provide personal protective equipment (PPE)?
Yes. All PPE required to protect a worker must be provided free of charge by employers. Regulation 4 of the Personal
Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 states:
"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."
Therefore, employers should provide according PPE and training in its usage to their employees wherever there is a risk to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means.How to comply with the PPE at Work Regulations?
Under the PPE at Work Regulations 1992, personal protective equipment should be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways.
The regulations also require that PPE:
is properly assessed before use to ensure it is suitable;
is maintained and stored properly;
is provided with instructions on how to use it safely; and
is used correctly by employeesCan employers charge for PPE?
No. Employers cannot ask for money from an employee for PPE. This includes agency workers.Current concerns over PPE
According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), more than one in five workers are being forced pay for their own personal protective equipment out of their own pocket, a situation the body said was a scandal.
An online poll of more than 2,500 PPE users found one in ten said although their work required them to wear safety equipment of some kind, their employer failed to provide or pay for this.
The TUC survey also found 8.9 per cent were made to pay for replacement equipment if their original PPE was damaged.
The TUC also found when an employee was provided with PPE the worker usually had to clean the equipment themselves or pay for it to be cleaned.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "The fact that so many employers are flaunting the law is an absolute scandal.
"Far too many workers are being forced to provide their own safety protection, whether footwear, boiler suits, overalls or gloves, and this abuse is widespread across a wide range of industries ranging from construction to catering."