PPE, also known as personal protective equipment, includes a wide range of clothing and items meant to protect people working in workspaces where there are chances of work-related injuries and hazards. Some of these items include helmets, eye protection, gloves, high-visibility clothing, harnesses, safety footwear, ear defenders and plugs, and respiratory protective equipment. Employees and employers alike have the duty to provide and use PPE safety equipment at work.
In the world of risk control, PPE ranks at the lowest and represents the option of a laser resort measure. It’s appropriate to wear where the hazard can’t be completely removed and controlled, so the people working around the potential hazard require protection. This approach may seem questionable, but it makes sense given the fact that PPE safety equipment protects only the person using it, whereas measures that involve controlling the hazard at a source level protect everyone in the workplace.
Further, PPE may restrict the wearer by limiting their mobility, requiring extra weight to be carried or limiting their visibility. It can also alter the worker’s perception of the hazards they’re dealing with. However, PPE is still extremely important as its usually used where other safety measures aren’t sufficient, so it’s the only way to prevent or reduce many occupational injuries, diseases and even fatalities.
PPE legislation was introduced with the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974, which places a duty of care on employers to ensure the safety of their workers and others and requires that they don’t charge them for anything done for the purposes of complying with the Act. Additionally, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Act requires self-employed people and employers to carry out sufficient and suitable risk assessment for work-related activities to decide what measures need to be taken for optimum safety.
The legislation was changed in 2018, and the new Regulation includes modern ways to bring PPE to the market as well as changes in production techniques and technology. This Regulation includes importers, retailers and distributors who now share responsibility for providing effective and safe products with manufacturers. Now, everyone in the PPE industry is legally required to comply with said Regulation.
Employers are forbidden from charging employees for providing and replacing PPE, no matter whether the equipment is returnable or not. This extends to agency workers if they’re regarded as employees, and if the employee has been terminated, they get to keep the PPE as long as it doesn’t state otherwise in the contract of employment, in which case the employer can deduct the cost of replacement from wages owed or demand the return of the PPE.