Who is at risk of injury due to inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
Some jobs carry an inherently higher risk to the safety of employees. Your employer has a duty of care to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to keep you safe from harm while working, and suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key element of workplace safety.
Each year, around 9,000 workers are injured because their employer does not provide them with the proper PPE such as hard hats, goggles and gloves.
Construction workers are particularly at risk of injury, with injuries ranging from burns, fractures and lacerations to hearing damage and respiratory conditions. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data, farm and other agricultural workers are also at risk of serious injury, requiring suitable PPE.
What are my employer's duties regarding PPE?
Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, employers must provide you with PPE if there is a risk to your safety that cannot be controlled by other means.
The regulations also state that PPE must be fit for its intended purpose and must be maintained and stored correctly. The PPE should be issued with instructions on safe usage, and employers must ensure that it is used correctly by workers.
Employees must also give training and instruction to ensure the PPE is used correctly. Workers have a general duty to use and maintain the PPE in accordance with the employer's instruction and report any defects.
Protective equipment that does not meet these standards is known as "inadequate PPE". If you are provided with no (or inadequate) PPE and you sustain an injury as a result, then you may be able to make a claim for compensation from your employer.
What does PPE include?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is defined by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 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 him against one or more risks to his health or safety."
PPE includes a variety of clothing items:
- Helmets, hard hats and bump caps
- Goggles, face shields and visors
- Overalls and boiler suits
- Waterproof, weatherproof and insulated clothing
- Safety harnesses
- Safety footwear
What to do if you have been injured at work
Get medical records
Even if you have suffered only minor injuries, you should still see a doctor for a detailed examination.
Seeing a doctor will also ensure you have a clear, official record of the extent of your injuries caused by the accident. This can make it easier when claiming compensation for these injuries if you choose to do so.
If you don’t seek medical attention, or delay in doing so, making a claim can be harder.
Find out more: Key things you need to do when getting medical help for a work injury
Keep a record of your accident and injuries
A record will make it easier to claim:
- Injury compensation
- Any benefits you are eligible to receive
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
It is a good idea to make a record while you still remember the details of happened, and while it is easier to get photos and contact details of witnesses.
Find out more: Gathering evidence after a work injury - checklist
Report the accident
If you were taken to hospital and could not report the accident in person, you should check that someone has notified your manager or supervisor.
A family member or work colleague should be able to report the accident for you, and your employer should make a detailed report of the accident in the company's Accident Book.
Can I claim?
You may be able to claim if you were injured in an accident at work, or if you have developed an occupational illness due to your working conditions.
You must start a claim within three years of the date of your accident, or three years of the date you learned of your injury.
What support is available?
In general, there are three routes to get financial support after a work accident:
- Claiming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Applying for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)
- Claiming work accident compensation
Your employer may also provide sick pay above the standard SSP rate. It can take some time to claim compensation and IIDB. If you plan to claim either of these, it may be worthwhile to start the process sooner.
What impact will my job status have on my claim?
Claims on behalf of temp workers and contractors may sometimes be slightly more complex than for full-time employees, but you could still be entitled to financial compensation.
Find out more:
How much compensation can I claim?
Your compensation is calculated in two parts; general damages, and special damages.
General damages are based on the nature and seriousness of your injuries, and on the impact your injuries will have on your life.
Special damages include any losses or expenses you have incurred due to the accident or your injuries.
The Work Accident Advice Centre calculator gives a more detailed assessment of what your compensation award could be, including general and special damages.
No win, no fee
Legal aid is not available when claiming compensation from an employer.
However, you can claim compensation on a "No Win, No Fee" basis. This means that you will have no legal fees to pay if your claim is not successful. If your solicitor does win your claim, they will receive a success fee. The success fee is deducted from the total compensation amount.
Compensation awards are increased for claimants using a No Win, No Fee agreement. This increase is to reduce the impact of the success fee on the amount the worker receives.
Our work injury advisors will:
- Offer free, impartial advice
- Explain how No Win, No Fee works
- Recommend the right solicitor
How does the HSE enforce the regulations?
The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing the PPE Regulations. If the Regulations are breached, it can provide advice on correct implementation. It also has the power to penalise a breach of the Regulations in a number of ways. The HSE can:
- Issue a formal warning.
- Issue an improvement notice.
- Issue a prohibition notice to stop a dangerous practice.
- Prosecute the employer for a serious breach of the legislation.
What is considered suitable PPE?
The PPE provided by your employer must give adequate protection against the hazards that you face in your job. Suitable PPE must be:
- CE marked in accordance with regulations
- The correct size and fit for the wearer
- Compatible with other PPE items when used simultaneously.
Other best practices which must be followed by employers include:
- Informing employees why PPE is needed, when it must be used and what its limitations are
- Reusable equipment must be cleaned and repaired in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- Safety signs must be erected to remind employees when and where PPE must be worn.
What protective items are not covered by PPE regulations?
There are some items of clothing or other personal protection that are not covered by PPE regulations. These include:
- Hearing protection
- Respiratory protection
- Specialist radiation and asbestos equipment
These items are not included because they are covered by more specialised regulations applying to specific hazards. Failure to provide these specialised items were appropriate is also likely to be a breach of an employer's duty of care to their staff.