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PPE - Personal Protective Equipment at work regulation (1992)

Employers have a basic responsibility to provide personal protective equipment (PPE). Those are governed by the Personal Protective Equipment At Work Regulations 1992.

What exactly is PPE?

Well it is defined 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 of more risks to his health or safety except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective"

This can therefore include safety goggles, gloves, helmets, high visibility clothes, safety harnesses and the like. Some items such as hearing protection and items associated with safe removal of asbestos for example have other regulations applicable to them as well.

It is not enough for an employer to simply have the equipment, it must be readily available to employees and they should be given instruction on where to find it.

It is also not enough to provide it; employers need to train employees how to use it.

Employers also have to take into account the individual requirements of the employee and the use of the protection. For example if a respirator and eye protection must be worn then they must both fit properly.

In one case a school catering assistant was given a protective jacket which was designed to be secured at the wrist by a popper button. The sleeves of the jacket were too long and she rolled the sleeves up to avoid them going into the food. The staff had been instructed to keep the sleeves down but this lady received a scalding injury when she was attempting to remove a container from a large steamer.

It was found that the employer (in this case a local authority) had not assessed the suitability or fit of the jacket for this lady and it was obvious that the sleeves were too long for was also obvious that she would have to roll the sleeves up to avoid contaminating the food. This lady received compensation for those injuries.

What sort of workers are at risk?

Anyone who may suffer injury during the course of their employment, who could have been protected by the provision of suitable clothing or equipment. The sort of risks include

  • Damage to eyes through chemical splashes or projectiles, vapours etc. Provision of goggles, safety glasses, visors etc
  • Breathing problems from dust, vapours, chemicals and the like. Provision of face masks and or respirators
  • Head injuries from falling objects or if there is a risk of hair entanglement for example. Provision of safety helmets or caps
  • Adverse weather conditions, or chemical spray or metal splash. Protective overalls, boiler suits, high visibility clothing.

There are many workers who still work in hazardous conditions without adequate protection; workers on building sites who are not given (or not forced to wear) protective headgear or footwear. There are many injuries caused by nails penetrating shoes, falling objects hitting unsuspecting workers and workers who are pulled into machinery, either because their hair got entangled( when the use of a cap could have prevented injury) or like the lady described above who was provided with some clothing but it was grossly inadequate.

If you have had an injury which you think might have been as a result of your employer failing to consider the risks associated with your job and failing to provide you with personal protective equipment, then you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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