Does your PPE actually protect your workers?

It’s important that you get the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for your workers to protect them when risks can’t be removed with other controls.  

If your risk assessment finds that PPE is needed, you as an employer have a duty under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 to provide PPE to workers – and training on how to use that PPE – free of charge. 

How do you decide which PPE to use?  

As PPE can come in many forms – like safety helmets, eye or hearing protection, harnesses, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) – and with so much available on the market, it’s important that you choose PPE which is right for the activity in hand.  

This includes making sure: 

  • It’s compatible to the job and offers the right level of protection 
  • It meets the standards required for the activity and is assessed before use 
  • It’s maintained in good working order and stored accordingly 
  • It’s used to the manufacturer’s instructions (after receiving training and information on the correct usage of the product) 
  • It’s compatible with other PPE which may be required for the task 
  • It’s replaced as and when required. 

Understanding what’s needed  

Having a good understanding of the PPE standards needed within your organisation is key. For example, as a minimum, safety gloves should be of BS EN 420 standard. But for heat-resistant gloves, they need to be BS EN 407 standard, and chemical-resistant gloves need to be EN 374 standard. A warning – choosing the wrong type of safety gloves can cause more harm than good! 

How to choose a supplier 

When choosing a PPE supplier, it’s recommended you chose a reputable supplier. Sounds obvious, but it’s vital that the products you purchase are UKCA-marked (or CE-marked in specific circumstances) and come with a Declaration of Conformity and instructions on how to use them.  

A reputable supplier – along with your trade association – can provide advice and guidance to make sure you buy the correct standard of PPE, and you understand what training and instructions are required, how to maintain the product, and when it will need replacing.  

Making sure PPE is fit for purpose 

You should check any PPE you purchase before giving it to workers to make sure the products aren’t damaged and are fit for purpose. Keeping a ‘PPE Issued Log’ for each worker or each product is a good idea. This should include: 

  • A worker’s signature for each item received 
  • The type and standard of the PPE 
  • The reason for the PPE 
  • The training, instruction and information received 
  • The date issued 
  • The renewal dates for replacing the products 

Some items will have a shorter shelf life than others. For example, hard hats on the UK market should not only be to BS EN 397 standard, but also have a date within the brim of a hard hat. This will most likely be the manufactured date, but can also include an expiry date. It’s recommended that safety hard hats are replaced every three years – at most every five years – regardless of condition. But if the hard hat has had an impact from a heavy or sharp object, is discoloured, or faded, cracked or showing signs of deterioration, then replace it straight away.  

Last but not least – involve your workers! 

The law states that employers have a duty to consult with workers or their representatives about the risks to their Health & Safety. But it’s also been found that, by involving workers in the selection of PPE required, your workers will be more likely to understand the risks to their Health & Safety and comply with the PPE requirements, creating a healthier and safer workplace! 

Need further support?  

If you’d like more support with PPE, risk assessments, policies, training, and anything else Health & Safety, we’re here for you. If you’re an existing client, simply call our 24/7 advice line on 0345 844 4848, and if you’re interested in partnering with us, call 0345 844 1111 and speak to our team today! 

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