In April, the regulations governing personal protective equipment (PPE) are being extended. Currently, workers who are employees as defined under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 are already covered under the PPE regulations. These are workers who have a defined contract of employment.
However, from April 6th 2022, those who maybe do not have a contract of employment, but who have a more casual working relationship will be covered by the regulations. The type of worker that this would new cover could be those who:
- Carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations
- After one month of continuous service, receive holiday pay but not other employment rights such as the minimum period of statutory notice
- Only carry out work if they choose to
- Have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (the contract doesn’t have to be written) and only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work, for example swapping shifts with someone on a pre-approved list (subcontracting)
- Are not in business for themselves (they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly)
What is the legal definition of PPE as outlined in the regulations?
This 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 the person against one or more risks to that person’s health or safety, and any addition or accessory designed to meet that objective’
How can you be sure that your employer or the person who provides you with work is going to comply with the new regulations?
You can ask them for PPE to protect you whilst carrying out your role, and if they refuse, you can advise them that the regulations state that they now have a fundamental duty to provide this.
The Health and Safety Executive often carry out routine inspections of businesses and places of employment, and assessing the PPE provided to employees is an integral part of those inspections. In a case where a breach has occurred and the correct PPE has not been provided to workers or employees, then they can take enforcement action against the firm who has failed to comply with the regulations. This can include anything from giving advice on ensuring that the regulations are adhered to, but they can also issue enforcement notices and, in serious cases, can prosecute.
It is interesting to note that an employer cannot force you to buy your own PPE if that equipment is necessary for you to carry out your job safely, as they should be supplying this to you themselves. Employers also need to provide training to show you how to use the PPE safely in your role, and must ensure that the equipment is well maintained, safely stored, and used properly.
This change in the regulations is good news for those not previously covered under the existing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992, and hopefully as a result of its introduction, workplaces will become much safer.