How much compensation can you claim for injuries caused by inadequate Personal Protective Equipment?

Each year, around 9,000 workers are injured because their employer does not provide them with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, goggles and gloves.

Construction workers are particularly at risk of injury, with injuries ranging from burns, fractures and lacerations to hearing damage and respiratory conditions. According to Health and Safety Executive data, farm and other agricultural workers are also at risk of serious injury, requiring suitable PPE. 

If you have been injured because you were not provided with the proper protective equipment then it may be possible to make a claim for personal injury compensation.

What is PPE?

PPE is the term applied to any equipment, clothing or accessory that is designed to protect a worker against one or more risks to his health or safety. Examples include:

  • Protective headgear 
  • Gloves
  • Face mask
  • Goggles
  • Ear protection
  • High-visibility clothing
  • Safety footwear
  • Safety harnesses
  • Breathing apparatus. 

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 ("the PPE Regulations") makes it clear that PPE is a measure of last resort. Employers have a legal duty to reduce workplace hazards using other measures before relying on PPE to minimise exposure. 

What are the employer's duties regarding PPE?

Under the PPE Regulations, employer must supply PPE to their workers free of charge wherever it is appropriate to do so. 

If your employer supplies PPE, then they are also responsible for making sure that it is the right equipment for the job, is properly fitted, and that the equipment is in a good state of repair. 

Employees must also give training and instruction to ensure the PPE is used correctly. For this, the employee must also assume some responsibility. Workers have a general duty to use and maintain the PPE in accordance with the employer's instruction, and report any defects.

Protective equipment that does not meet these standards is known as "inadequate PPE." If you are provided with no or inadequate PPE and you sustain an injury as a result, then you may be able to make a claim for compensation based on your employer's negligence.

Calculating your claim for inadequate PPE?

Poor-quality or inappropriate PPE may cause or exacerbate a number of injuries ranging from burns, scalds, lacerations and fractures to hearing loss and needle stick injuries. Compensation depends on the type and seriousness of the injury. 

The Judicial College Guidelines recommends upper and lower compensation levels for various types of personal injury and are a good indication of the type of award you might expect to recover. 

For example, a permanent eye injury might receive an award of £6,925 to £15,950. For a severe facial burn, the relevant amount is around £64,000.

As well as claiming “general damages” for pain and suffering, your solicitor can also help you to recover the out-of-pocket expenses that are associated with your injury. This type of compensation, known as “special damages”, might include lost wages, medical costs and the cost of buying specialist equipment. 

Together, your general and special damages will make up the full value of your compensation claim.