Employers responsibilities to workers regarding the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are changing from 6 April 2022.
What is PPE?
PPE is defined in the regulations 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.”
What does this mean for employers?
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 place a duty on every employer in Great Britain to ensure that suitable PPE is provided to ‘employees’ who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work.
The PPER 2022 extends this duty to workers and comes into force on 6 April 2022. You need to carefully consider whether the change to UK law applies to you and your workforce and make the necessary preparations to comply.
‘“worker” means an individual who has entered into or works under:
- a contract of employment; or
- 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;
Generally, workers who come under limb (b):
- carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations
- after 1 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)
As every employment relationship will be specific to the individual and employer, the precise status of any worker can ultimately only be determined by a court or tribunal.
Please note: These changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self-employed’ status.
So what does this mean for workers?
If a risk assessment indicates a worker requires PPE to carry out their work activities, you must carry out a PPE suitability assessment and provide the PPE free of charge as you do for employees.
As the employer, you will be responsible for the maintenance, storage and replacement of any PPE you provide, and as a worker, they will be required to report loss and defects in the PPE which is provided, use the PPE in accordance with the training and instruction provided, and ensure PPE is returned to the accommodation provided.