PPE at Work Regulations 1992
Some jobs carry an inherently higher risk to the safety of employees. Your employer has a duty of care to ensure that all reasonable precautions are made to keep you safe from harm while working.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 sets out duties imposed on employers in relation to the clothing and personal equipment that should be provided to at-risk staff. Employers must adhere to these regulations, and, in the event of an accident, failure to do so may indicate that the employer is negligent.
What is Personal Protective Equipment?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is defined by the 1992 Regulations as:
"all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health or safety."
PPE includes a variety of clothing items:
- Helmets, hard hats and bump caps
- Goggles, face shields and visors
- Overalls and boiler suits
- Waterproof, weatherproof and insulated clothing
- Safety harnesses
- Safety footwear
What do the PPE Regulations require?
The regulations state that your employer must provide you with PPE in circumstances where there is a risk to your safety that cannot be controlled by other means.
A ladder accident claim may arise, for example, where a worker is working at a height where a harness would be a suitable precaution, where no harness is provided, and the worker is subsequently injured in a fall.
The regulations also state that PPE must be fit for its intended purpose and must be maintained and stored correctly. The PPE should be issued with instructions on safe usage, and employers must ensure that it is used correctly by workers.
The PPE provided by your employer must give adequate protection against the hazards that you face in your job. Suitable PPE must be:
- CE marked in accordance with regulations
- The correct size and fit for the wearer
- Compatible with other PPE items when used simultaneously.
Other best practices which must be followed by employers include:
- Informing employees why PPE is needed, when it must be used and what its limitations are
- Reusable equipment must be cleaned and repaired in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- Safety signs must be erected to remind employees when and where PPE must be worn.
The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing the PPE Regulations. If the Regulations are breached, it can provide advice on correct implementation. It also has the power to penalise a breach of the Regulations in a number of ways:
- Issue a formal warning
- Issue an improvement notice
- Issue a prohibition notice to stop a dangerous practice
- Prosecute the employer for serious breach of the legislation.
Failure to provide PPE
If you work in an environment that requires PPE and your employer fails to provide sufficient equipment, this puts you at risk of injury. Your employer is breaching their duty of care to keep you safe from harm, and if you are injured as a result you may be eligible to claim compensation for a work accident.
Common injuries through failure to provide PPE include:
- Crushed feet from dropping heavy objects onto unsuitable footwear
- Neck injury, back injury or head injury from falling objects while not wearing a hard hat or helmet
- Eye injuries from shrapnel, dust or small objects coming into contact while not wearing a visor or goggles
- Burns or scalds from chemicals or liquids contacting skin while not wearing gloves, overalls or boiler suits
- Falls from height while working and not wearing safety harnesses.
How to make an claim for a breach of the PPE regulations
If your employer failed to supply you with PPE and this resulted in an injury, you may be able to claim compensation. You will need to be able to prove that your employer failed in their duty of care to you by not providing sufficient PPE to complete your job safely.
If your employer has failed to comply with the PPE at Work Regulations 1992, it is likely that your employer failed to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety, and that you have solid grounds to make a claim.
What protective items are not covered by PPE regulations?
There are some items of clothing or other personal protection that are not covered by PPE regulations. These include:
- Hearing protection
- Respiratory protection
- Specialist radiation and asbestos equipment
These items are not included because they are covered by more specialised regulations applying to specific hazards. Failure to provide these specialised items were appropriate is also likely to be a breach of an employer's duty of care to their staff.