Difficulties in obtaining Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have sadly been a recurring headline since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) began to have a significant effect on the way that we in the UK live and work. But what exactly is PPE, what is it used for and what does the law say about instances where an employer fails in their obligations to provide it to their employees?
The provision of PPE to employees
Everyone wants to go to work and trust that they are safe, and are not at risk from unnecessary harm when carrying out their responsibilities. The law provides that any potential risk to an employee’s health should be avoided completely, where possible.
Unfortunately, in many jobs it is simply not possible to avoid these risks completely. Employees can be subject to harm from accidents in the workplace, industrial diseases such as asbestosis or vibration injuries such as ‘white finger’. In these situations the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 provides that appropriate PPE should be identified and put into use to protect employees as far as possible from the potential for harm.
Some examples of PPE include:-
- Safety helmets;
- High visibility clothing;
- Protective goggles;
- Ear protectors;
- Gloves, and;
The provision of PPE is required in any role where there is a risk to your health due to the nature of your work, and equipment can be used to reduce that risk. Your employer should assess your risk of experiencing an accident or contracting an industrial disease and act by obtaining the correct PPE and providing it to you. PPE should be provided to you free of charge, and you should receive training on how to use your equipment correctly. Your employer should also assess the suitability of all PPE and store it appropriately so it remains functional.
What the law requires
Your employer has a duty of care to ensure that you have a safe environment in which to work. This means they should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure your health, safety and wellbeing. If your employer fails to do so they may be held liable for any injury or loss you sustain as a result of their negligence.
With regards to PPE this means that a lack of PPE, incorrect PPE or a failure to train employees in the use of PPE can mean that, where an accident occurs because of this failure, an employer can be held liable for that injury and any subsequent losses sustained by the employee.
Coronavirus and PPE
In the current climate, employers should also be taking steps to protect employees from contracting coronavirus. This also includes the provision of suitable PPE and adopting other measures sufficient to protect employees.
A few examples of situations that we would encourage you to seek legal advice should you contract COVID-19 include:-
- Where you can work from home, but your employer will not let you;
- Lack of PPE to ensure you can carry out your work safely;
- Where your employer does not take steps to ensure social distancing where possible, including providing an environment where you can remain at a distance of 2 meters from colleagues or customers
At Jackson Boyd, we have extensive experience of pursuing injury at work claims. Even in these challenging times, employers must ensure they comply with their responsibility to keep us safe, as far as possible. This includes the provision of PPE where appropriate. As above, if your employer fails to meet their obligation they may be liable for your losses should you sustain an injury.
For more information and to discuss your situation with a member of our Personal Injury team, contact Jackson Boyd today for a free telephone consultation.