The following Q&A session is intended to provide answers to some of your issues. If you need further assistance, please contact us to discuss how we can help you. If the answer that you are looking for is not on this page, why not contact us for more information?
Our number is 01509 550023.
It is the duty of the employer to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to their employees free of charge. This duty is stated in Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which prohibits employers from charging for PPE that is required to be provided under any health and safety legislation.
The purpose of personal protective equipment is to offer the employee protection against identified risks. It follows, then, that the need for PPE should be identified during the risk assessment process, which is now a central principle of nearly all modern health and safety legislation. In all workplaces, a risk assessment is required by Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999. Risk assessments carried out under other sets of regulations (such as those relating to COSHH, manual handling, noise, vibration, etc.) may also identify the need for PPE. PPE should be viewed as a last resort when considering control measures for reducing risks, as it only works for the individual wearing the PPE and it is only effective when being worn.
Employees are under a duty to ensure their own health and safety and, as a result, must make appropriate use of all PPE provided, as indeed they must of all control measures identified in the risk assessment. Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act places a duty on employees to insure their own health and safety whilst at work; failure to wear personal protective equipment (as appropriate) is clearly a breach of this duty. Further to this, employees have a duty under Regulation 10 of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 to use personal protective equipment appropriately. Employees who persist in not wearing personal protective equipment may (in certain circumstances) find themselves at risk of prosecution from enforcing authorities as well as also at risk of disciplinary action from their employer.
While it is the employee’s duty to wear the PPE provided as appropriate to the circumstances, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that personal protective equipment provided by the employer is worn as and when appropriate. This duty is clearly stated in Regulation 10 of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, which states that employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that personal protective equipment provided is used, as appropriate to the circumstances.
- providing the PPE (free of charge),
- instructing the employee in the appropriate use of the PPE provided,
- taking all reasonable steps to enforce the appropriate use of PPE within the workplace
- challenging employees who do not make appropriate use of the PPE provided (this may involve taking disciplinary action when training and reminding is not effective),
- providing suitable storage facilities for the PPE issued to workers.
Short answer: No.
Under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 the employer has a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees so far as is reasonably practicable. Getting an employee to sign any form of disclaimer to absolve the employer of this duty will not stand up in court. Failure to manage the health, safety and welfare of employees, to ensure the appropriate use of control measures and adherence to policies and procedures is an infringement of Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This regulation requires employers to have effective arrangements for the management of health and safety at work. Effective arrangements, in this context, means working and not merely notional or written.
When more than one item of PPE is required to be used once (such as hearing protection and a safety helmet), the individual items of equipment must be compatible with each other and must not reduce the level of protection offered by each item individually. When more than one piece of personal protective equipment must be worn at any one time consideration of compatibility should be made at an early stage and appropriate, compatible equipment should be provided.
There is no specific requirement to provide personal protective equipment for non-employees. In certain circumstances however the need to provide personal protective equipment for non-employees may arise from the employers duties under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (duty to ensure the health and safety of non-employees).
Typical examples may include:
- the provision of high visibility jackets for use in yard areas or
- the provision of safety helmets for use in areas where construction activities are being carried out.
- in an efficient state
- in an efficient working order and
- in good repair