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 consider 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.
Here’s how the new regulations may affect employers and what they should consider, ensuring they are operating in line with their legal responsibilities.
Understanding what the new regulations mean
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 consider those workers who:
Have a contract of employment – These are ‘employees’ who are covered by Section 2 of the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974, as well as 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.
May not have a formalised contract of employment – The regulations now account for ‘workers’ who may not have a formalised contract of employment and who are engaged in a more ‘casual’ way.
Have clarity on employment status
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 will not only ensure that you operate within the parameters of the law, but that your workforce is adequately trained and well prepared from a health and safety perspective.
Provide PPE Free of Charge
Supplying PPE to more workers, whether that’s hats, goggles or hard hats, will come with a cost implication, as the PPE must be free of charge to the worker. You should review the financial impact of the new regulations as soon as possible, understanding how the changes will affect your business.
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.
Clearly define your policy
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.