Personal protective equipment is developed to ultimately reduce risk in the workplace. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have made it very clear that UK employers have a strong duty regarding the provision, use of and enforcement of personal protective equipment in the workplace. Personal protective equipment is essentially the equipment which can be used to protect an individual against health and safety risks.
What can be regarded as personal protective equipment?
Personal protective equipment will relate to any piece of equipment which an individual can use to protect themselves from an identified risk or hazard within the workplace. Therefore, there are certain workplaces which will require more protective equipment than others; for example, a building site will require more protective equipment for employees than an office would.
Safety Helmets - To protect an employee's head from falling bricks and material or from falling from height.
Eye Goggles - To protect an employee's eyes from dust, building material, flying particles or from fumes.
Safety Gloves - To protect an employee's hands from harmful substances which they might deal with - for example chemical substances or corrosive materials.
High Visibility Clothing, such as jackets - To protect an employee from oncoming vehicles or to simply show to other people that the employee is there and is making themselves apparent to other surrounding individuals.
How can an employer provide personal protective equipment?
As an employer, it will be your responsibility to select and provide the appropriate personal protective equipment for employees and work associates. You need to be aware of how to conduct this process. When it comes to personal protective equipment, employers are subject to the UK Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002, so make sure the equipment that you choose is CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. Involve the employees in the decision process, so they can include their height, weight and measurements. This will also encourage them to use the equipment more if it is comfortable and they have been involved in the decision-making process.
What are an employee's rights in the workplace?
As an employee you have the right to work in a workplace that has conditions which do not contain risks to the employees. You are also entitled to receive information and training about the risks and hazards which exist within the workplace, and to be involved within the health and safety process. It is also an employee's right to file complaints against the employer if health and safety standards are not being upheld.
As an employer to avoid the fines and prosecution which will be administered by the UK Health and Safety Executive, it is important to provide personal protective equipment if necessary. Training and knowledge of this process is available to ensure employers fully fulfil their health and safety duties.