PPE changes for the workforce: guidance for employers 13 April 2022

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With new PPE regulations that came into force on 6th April, under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022, employers that supply safety equipment to employees must carefully assess their health and safety responsibilities. Micheal Brown, Health & Safety Contact Manager at Citation explains what the changes really mean and addresses key considerations for employers.

Under previous legislation, it was an employer’s duty to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to employees. However, the PPE changes now extend the Health & Safety responsibilities of the employer, ensuring that they take into account a broader definition of ‘worker’ and that they provide PPE free of charge to these workers.

Put simply, the PPE regulation changes in PPER 2022 are centred around a definition of ‘worker’ that replaces the old terminology of ‘employee’ used in the previous 1992 regulations.

The new regulations will not change your duties towards those individuals employed on a contract of employment. However, due to the changes within the PPER 2022, more people may now fall into the category of ‘worker’, which means that if you are using workers to complete works for your business on a personal basis you may be required to provide suitable and sufficient PPE, training and instruction on the use of that PPE free of charge. For those who are genuinely self-employed, there’s no requirement for you to provide them with PPE.

The regulations now take into account those workers who nave a contract of employment or may nt have a formalised contract of employment. In the first case, these are ‘employees’ who are covered by Section 2 of the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974 and also by the existing PPE regulations. There are no changes to the duties to employees under the amendments and so employers should continue to provide high-quality PPE in line with the risks identified within their risk assessments, free of charge.

In the second case, the regulations now account for ‘workers’ who may not have a formalised contract of employment and who are engaged in a more ‘casual’ way.

All workers, including employees and those who previously were regarded as ‘casual’ and similar terms, must now be provided with PPE and trained on using that PPE, unless they are genuinely self-employed.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the legal employment status of each individual within your workforce and have clarity on if they fall under the PPE regulations or not.

Understanding if you need to legally supply PPE and training from the off will not only ensure that you operate within the parameters of the law, but that your work force is adequately trained and well prepared from a health and safety perspective.

Supplying PPE, whether that’s items such as hats, goggles or hard hats, to more workers will come with a cost implication. You should review the financial impact of the new regulations as soon as possible, understanding how the changes will affect your business. PPE needs to be supplied to workers free of charge.

With this in mind, it’s also good to have a future plan in terms of new hires and contracts, clearing mapping out who you will be supplying with PPE training and equipment to, and a system to verify that they have received it.

It’s beneficial for you to have a clearly defined policy, in line with the new regulations, when it comes to the supply of free PPE.

Establish employment status and check that your workers and those who are self-employed are wearing the PPE required in line with their risk assessments.

Clearly defining your Health & Safety policy and sharing it with new members of the workforce as part of your onboarding process, will not only demonstrate that you are a responsible employer, but will help workers to feel safe and supported as part of your team.

Micheal Brown

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