As an employer, you should know that the most important asset of any business is not the physical building or the brand, but the staff. It is the people that make any business. From the largest multinational to the smallest start up, without the individuals working hard and putting their effort into succeeding, all the company entails is just an empty shell.
The best companies in the world all have one thing in common: they value and look after their staff, whether this means providing good salaries and benefits such as pensions and healthcare plans, or ensuring the workplace is a happy and fun place to work. However, above all of that, the most important way of taking care of your staff is by ensuring their safety at work.
What legislation is there for health and safety at work?
Workplaces are dangerous places, with thousands of workers being injured or even losing their lives each year. Legislation such as the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and the 2002 Personal Protective Equipment Regulations have enshrined in law the employer’s responsibility to care for their staff’s safety.
However, it is up to each individual company to make sure these regulations are followed and carried out, not just to comply with the law (which is only the minimum requirement) but also to ensure that their most important assets are protected. One of the key ways of doing this is with personal protective equipment, or PPE as it is commonly known.
PPE law explained
To help protect the health and safety of workers, the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations were introduced to the UK in 1992, and updated in 2002. These regulations explain the duties employers have regarding the provision and use of PPE equipment. For example, employers must ensure that protective equipment is provided free of charge, that staff are trained on how to use it, and that equipment is maintained, repaired and replaced when needed.
Regulation 4 of the 1992 act states:
‘Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.’
The accompanying guidance clarifies that work which endangers health and safety should only be carried out when there is no alternative, and that if such work goes ahead, then the necessary PPE and training must be provided. More than simply providing the equipment, employers need to make sure that it is always available when needed, that is in suitable working condition, that clear instructions are given and that its use is clearly enforced.
Section 9 of the act makes it clear that under no circumstances should there be any charge to an employee requiring PPE equipment, and that the employer should provide all the necessary equipment for free. The equipment must also be regularly checked for damage and effectiveness, with special attention being paid to specific requirements, such as the use-by dates of hard hats.
What are employers’ responsibilities regarding personal protective equipment at work?
If you employ workers in an environment where there may be a risk to their health and safety, you are legally required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep them safe at work. The type of equipment required will depend on a range of factors, including the working environment, the hazards faced and the specific roles being carried out. It’s best to carry out a thorough risk assessment to identify what kind of equipment may be needed, to ensure you’re covering all bases.
Examples of PPE equipment which may be required could include:
As noted above, the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations state that employers must provide PPE free of charge, ensure it is fit for purpose, train staff on its use and repair or replace it when necessary.
To build your business, it makes sense to invest in your staff, and this includes providing them with the best PPE equipment available. Here at Protec, we stock everything you need to keep workers protected, from head protection to safety footwear, so you can ensure you fulfil your obligations both to your workers and to the law.