Updated for 2022 Ammendment. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the defining act of Parliament that lays down all the regulations for workplace safety, including the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations UK, or to give its current full title –
The Personal Protective Equipment At Work Regulations 1992 (As Amended in 2002, 2013 and 2022).
As the title suggests, the regulations were first introduced in 1992 and came into force on January 1st 1993 to ensure that basic duties over the provision and use of PPE apply to all situations where PPE is required. Since then there has been updates and amendments in 2002 and again in 2013.
The fact that it has been reviewed twice in 20 years following its introduction demonstrates it is a regulation that’s taken very seriously, and it also reflects the advancements and growth in workplace protective equipment and attire.
What is PPE
PPE can be defined as all equipment which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work which protects them against one or more risks to their health and safety. This also includes PPE required for adverse weather protection or cold conditions such as handling frozen foods or working in refrigerated areas.
However, it does not apply to clothing worn as a uniform, non protective work wear such as that provided for food hygiene, or items used for sports competitions such as shin pads or helmets worn by cricketers for example. It does however apply to certain people working within sports such as life jackets for those involved in training for water sports such as canoeing, or helmets for riding instructors.
Neither should it be regarded as a first or the only line of defence against harm or ill health. All other measures for eliminating the risk completely or reducing it to it’s lowest possible level should be put in place first with PPE as the final layer of defence providing comfort, assurance and confidence to the wearer that they are protected against any residual potential hazards.
What should you consider as an employer?
To keep things simple for the majority of small businesses we shall look at the most relevant parts of the regulation. That said, all of the regulation is relevant to UK business but your business may not be involved in some of the higher risk activities.
The full document can be downloaded or viewed from a link at the end of this article, but for now let us take a look at what you should be considering as an employer or self-employed person.
Regulation 4. Provision of PPE.
Every employer shall ensure that suitable PPE is provided to their employees who may be exposed to risk to their safety and health, except where it has been controlled by other more effective methods.
# Note. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require PPE to be the last resort in the principles of protection
PPE should be:
- Suitable for the risks and conditions it is provided for (including the length of time worn).Take into account the ergonomic requirements and health of the user. (one size definitely does not fit all). Is capable of fitting the wearer correctly and comfortably, by adjustment if necessary. Able to combat the hazard without increasing the risk (so far as is reasonably practicable). Has a CE mark ensuring it complies with the required standards.
Regulation 5. Compatability in Use.
Where more than one risk is present, the PPE should be capable of providing protection for all risks to safety and health it has been issued for, without increasing the risk in any other area.
For example, where a hard hat has been issued for head protection and ear defenders issued for noise protection, they must both be able to be worn correctly together without one compromising the other.
Regulation 6. Informed Assessment.
Employers must ensure an assessment is carried out to ensure the correct purchase of PPE is made.
The assessment would need to include:
- The effective protection that the PPE affords the wearer taking into account any risks that the PPE might create itself.
- An assessment of any risks that haven’t been managed by other methods.
- Information as to whether the PPE is compatible with other PPE that may need to be worn.
- A comparison of similar PPE with similar characteristics.
Regulation 7. Maintaining the PPE.
Every employer (including self-employed persons) shall ensure the PPE is maintained, cleaned or replaced as required to keep it in an efficient state and efficient working order.
The maintenance should be proportionate to the risk and appropriate to the PPE.
Specialist PPE such as breathing apparatus and fall arrest equipment should have a regime of planned maintenance which should also be recorded.
Spare parts must be compatible and be the proper part, including CE marking, and manufacturers guidelines for maintenance, repair and use should also be followed.
In some cases, these obligations can be fulfilled by using disposable items of PPE which can be discarded after use. Users should know when and how to dispose of disposable PPE.
Regulation 8. Provision of Accommodation for PPE.
Where PPE is provided, employers must provide suitable accommodation to keep it separate from other work garments or prevent it from being damaged. It need not be complicated or costly and might range from a glasses case to store goggles, to a peg to hang overalls, or a cabinet to store more complex forms of PPE. Where the PPE affords protection from damp or wet conditions then a suitable drying area would be required.
Regulation 9. Information, Training, Instruction.
The employer shall provide the employee with information and training about the PPE including:
- The purpose of the PPE, what risks it affords protection against and why it is needed.
- The manner in which the PPE should be used and it’s limitations.
- Maintenance requirements of the PPE, selection, use and storage.
- Problems during wearing, defects, incompatibility with other items of PPE, hygiene and poor fit.
- Practice in correct putting on and taking off.
Regulation 10-11. Use and Reporting of Defects.
The employer shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that PPE is properly used.
Every employee shall;
- Use the PPE provided for their protection in accordance with training and instruction.
- Store it in the accommodation or protective container provided after use.
- Report loss or any obvious defect.
Personal Protective Equipment At Work Download
The download and guidance from the HSE is for those who have responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of people at work, or for the safe operation of a workplace.
It provides practical guidance on the steps to take to try to manage risks without resorting or relying totally on PPE, which should always be used as a last resort only.
The guide includes handy examples of the types of PPE to consider and specific areas of risk.
This HSE Guide can be downloaded HERE free of charge from Health and Safety Today.
Training and CPD
HST have teamed up with an online partner to bring you health, safety and compliance training at very affordable prices. These courses available 24/7 so you can study at a time to suit you.
Take a look today and consider upskilling yourself or your workforce.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) at work regulations from 6 April 2022
On 6 April 2022 the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022) come into force and amend the 1992 Regulations (PPER 1992).
They extend employers’ and employees’ duties regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) to limb workers.
Duties unchanged but extended.
Under PPER 2022, the types of duties and responsibilities on employers and employees under PPER 1992 will remain unchanged but will extend to limb (b) workers, as defined in PPER 2022.
If PPE is required, employers must ensure their workers have sufficient information, instruction and training on the use of PPE.
A limb worker will have the duty to use the PPE in accordance with their training and instruction, and ensure it is returned to the storage area provided by their employer.
What is a limb worker?
In the UK, section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996’s definition of a worker has 2 limbs:
Limb (a) describes those with a contract of employment. This group are employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and are already in scope of PPER 1992
Limb (b) describes workers who generally have a more casual employment relationship and work under a contract for service – they do not currently come under the scope of PPER 1992.
PPER 2022 draws on this definition of worker and captures both employees and limb (b) workers:
‘“worker” means ‘an individual who has entered into or works under –
(a) a contract of employment; or
(b) any other contract, whether express or implied and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual;
and any references to a worker’s contract shall be construed accordingly.’
Hierarchy of Controls
Remember, when considering PPE for your workers there is a hierarchy of control you must consider when controlling the risk of injury or ill health.
Consider controls in the following order, with elimination being the most effective and PPE being the least effective:
Elimination – physically remove the hazard
Substitution – replace the hazard
Engineering controls – isolate people from the hazard
Administrative controls – change the way people work
PPE – protect the worker with personal protective equipment