Certain types of employment involve coming into contact with hazardous materials or working in conditions that are risky. Such occupations may require the use of protective equipment if the risk of injury or harm to the workforce is to be kept to a minimum. If you are in the type of employment that requires the use of protective equipment, what can you do if you sustain an injury because your employer did not provide you with it? The answer is provided by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations
These regulations require employers to provide employees with personal protective equipment where such protection is necessary to guard against a risk to health and safety and there is no way of controlling that risk in any other way. The regulations place a responsibility on the employer to conduct a proper assessment of the personal protective equipment to ensure that it is suitable and also impose a requirement that it is properly stored and maintained and that the employee is provided with appropriate instruction and training as to its safe use.
The Risks Covered
The types of risk to which the regulations apply are:
- To the eyes, in the form of chemical or metal, dust, gas, vapour radiation and other projectiles.
Protective equipment includes safety spectacles, goggles, face shields and visors.
- To the head, in the form of falling items, heads bumping and hair becoming caught.
Protective equipment includes protective helmets and caps.
- To the respiratory system, in the shape of dust, gas, vapour and lack of oxygen.
Protective equipment includes filters, respirators, air-supplied helmets and breathing equipment.
- To the body, in the form of extremes of temperature, dust, pressure leaks, bad weather, chemicals, impact, and penetration injuries.
Protective equipment includes overalls, boiler suits and other types of specialist protective and/or high visibility clothing.
- To the hands and arms, in the form of extremes of temperature, abrasions, cuts, impact injuries, chemical contact, electricity, infection, disease and contamination.
Protective equipment includes gloves, gauntlets, mittens, wrist cuffs and armlets.
- To the feet and legs, in the shape of slips, cuts, falling objects, static electricity, chemicals and wetness.
Protective equipment includes safety boots, protective toe caps, leggings, gaiters and spats.
If you are injured at work as a result of the failure of your employer to comply with the regulations it is likely that you will be able to recover compensation for the injury or industrial illness that you have suffered. Non-compliance with the regulations includes a failure to provide you with any personal protection equipment, providing you with defective or inadequate equipment or failing to provide you with proper training as to how you should use the protective equipment safely. If you think that you may have a claim for compensation, you should take early advice from a personal injury solicitor who specialises in industrial accidents. He or she will be able to provide you with a clear idea as to whether you have a viable claim and, if so, the likely level of compensation that you will be able to recover.