In the UK the Health and Safety at Work 1974 is the defining act of Parliament that lays down all the regulations for workplace safety including the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, or to give its current full title –
The Personal Protective Equipment At Work Regulations 1992 (As Amended in 2002 and 2013).
As the title suggests, the regulations were first introduced in 1992 (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
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.