There’s been a lot of talk about personal protective equipment over the last month - and understandably so.
As we mark World Day for health and safety at work (28 April 2020), the subject of PPE, as it’s commonly referred to, will no doubt be a key area of focus.
What is PPE?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can take a variety of forms. It could be a high visibility jacket provided to a street cleaner or welder. It could be safety glasses, safety boots, gloves, hard hat or leathers.
In the case of healthcare professionals, it’s equipment like gowns, masks, gloves and eye protection. This protects them from potentially infectious patients, materials, toxic medication and other potentially dangerous substances used in the delivery of healthcare.
What does the law say about PPE?
When we go to work, we have a right to expect that our employer will take the necessary steps to ensure that we’re adequately safe and protected from harm. The law insists on it.
Employers are required to carry out an assessment of the health and safety risks of the activities they’re asking their workers to do. Risks to health and safety should be avoided completely if at all possible.
But there are some jobs that need to be done which carry risks to health and safety and where, as a last resort, the worker will need to wear personal protective equipment.
An employer should provide all the PPE a worker needs – and free of charge - to ensure that the employee is properly protected from the risk of injury or even, in some circumstances, death.
The nature and purpose of the equipment will depend upon the type of work and the potential risks the individual might be exposed to.
It is an employer's duty to ensure that the suitability of PPE is properly assessed before use and to provide instructions as to how it is to be worn, maintained and stored. If a worker has to wear several different PPE items, such as breathing equipment and eye protection, the PPE must be compatible with each other and capable of being worn together - without compromising the intended benefit of each piece of equipment.
What are my legal rights on PPE?
You may be able to claim compensation if you suffer injury, or the loss of a loved through the lack of personal protective equipment or inadequate provision of PPE. You may be able to claim compensation for the injury, illness or even losses arising from death. You can find out more information on our web page about personal protective equipment.
At Hugh James, we have one of the largest personal injury and accident at work legal teams in the UK and have the skills, knowledge and experience to help you. Everyone has a right to be kept safe in their workplace. Health and Safety laws are there to protect you and the organisations you work for. And, awareness days like World Day for health and safety at work, help to bring the importance of the subject to international attention.
About the Author:
Iain Scott is a Partner at Hugh James. He’s a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and has over 20 years’ experience representing injured clients, including people who have had accidents at work.