A Guide to Accident Claims for Breach of the PPE at Work Regulations 1992
All employers have a legal duty of care to ensure that their staff are safe. This includes making provisions for protective clothing and equipment if there a risk posed to the safety of an employee. If the employer breaches this duty of care, the employee may be entitled to make a claim against them for personal injury compensation.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the term used to refer to any equipment that is used to protect the employee from risks posed by their job. The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 stipulates that all employers are legally obliged to provide PPE at no cost to any employee who may face risks and hazards in their job role.
What is personal protective equipment?
The Regulations define PPE as being ‘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 can include a vast array of items, including:
- Head protection such as helmets, bump caps and hard hats
- Protective gloves
- Safety shoes such as steel-toe capped boots
- Boiler suits or overalls
- Visors, face shields and goggles
- Weatherproof clothing including waterproofs and insulated clothes
- High visibility clothing
The PPE Regulations do not cover respiratory protection, hearing protection or equipment used for protection against asbestos or radiation. There are specifically designed regulations that cover protection for these types of hazards.
The PPE Regulations state that PPE is designed to be used as a last resort when protection and control cannot be maintained against workplace risks and hazards in other ways. If there are no alternative ways for protection to be offered, the employer has a legal duty to supply PPE that meets the standards set out in the Regulations. All PPE provided to employees must meet the following standards:
- The PPE must be fit for its intended use
- The PPE must be provided with instructions or training on how it is to be used safely
- All supplied PPE must be used correctly by the employee
- All PPE must be stored and maintained properly
For the supplied PPE to meet the legal requirements, it must offer sufficient protection against the associated risks and hazards within the workplace. There are a number of best-practice processes that employers should follow when determining which PPE is suitable, including:
- PPE should be chosen that includes “CE” markings as per the Regulations
- Employers should take care to choose appropriately sized and fitted PPE for employees
- Employers should communicate the necessity of relevant PPE to their staff, detailing when it should be used and its limitations
- If different items of PPE are to be used at once, their compatibility must be ensured
- The manufacturer’s guide should be followed with regards to the maintenance of all PPE
- Safety signs should be implemented by the employer to highlight when and where PPE should be used by staff.
Enforcement of the Regulations
If the Regulations are breached by an employer, the Health and Safety Executive can issue a number of penalties, depending upon the risk posed to employees. This includes:
- A verbal notice can be issued to ensure that the employer knows how to implement the Regulations
- A formal warning may be issued
- An improvement notice may be issued
- If there is a risk of continued dangerous practice, a prohibition notice may be issued
- The employer may be prosecuted if there is a serious breach of the Regulations
If an employee suffers an injury because of a breach of the PPE Regulations, they may be entitled to claim compensations against their employer.