Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) provides a safeguard for employees against a variety of health and safety issues and risks that can arise in the workplace. No business is allowed by law to charge employees for essential PPE that's only required within the workplace. PPE products available include gloves, eye protectors and masks, safety helmets, hi-vis clothes, safety boots and footwear, harnesses, and RPE (respiratory protection equipment).
Is my business legally obliged to provide PPE in the workplace?
If you're wondering whether your business needs to provide PPE, the answer is this: "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."
This is set out within the guidelines issued in the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. Of course, it can be argued not all businesses operate in risky environments, and no hazards or health risks are posed to employees. For example, most administration or office-based businesses won't expose their workforce to significant health and safety risks within the workplace. Just one example of where this argument falls down is if it's applied to office workers needing to access warehousing or lorry parks on a regular or infrequent basis. Failing to provide office workers with PPE in the above circumstances is a breach of your legislative requirements under UK health and safety laws. There are loads more examples of failure to provide PPE that could be cited.
One solution to infrequent worker use of PPE is to establish a workplace store
Setting up a workplace PPE store facility is one way companies with infrequent employee requirements for PPE can ensure affordability of required gear. However, it is also your legal obligation to educate and train all employees about the reasons they need PPE and how it should be used or worn.
You'll find lots of guidance on PPE and workplace regulations on the government's Health & Safety Executive website, and this needs to be considered by business leaders across all sectors. Health and safety within the workplace doesn't just fall within the remit of larger companies and international corporations, the smallest UK startup business is still obliged to risk assess all areas of the working environment. Failing to provide essential PPE to workers can even lead to lengthy court cases or fines imposed on your business. Therefore, putting the health and safety of all your employees at the forefront of your business ethos should be a paramount consideration for any employer.
Contact Heathbrook today!
Find out more about protection clothing and PPE on our website. We're the experts at providing progressive workwear solutions for all kinds of business environments. Another consideration, beyond any legal requirement is the impact it has on employee morale to demonstrate that 'an employee's safety is of paramount concern'. In a recent blog, we also discussed the importance of considering the diversity needs of your workforce when selecting PPE and the benefits this brings.