How do you know if your employees need personal protective equipment?

How do you know if your employees need personal protective equipment?

Tips to stay abreast of PPE regulations in the UK

When it comes to the risks and hazards in your business, the people who should really understand them are your employees. After all, they are at the coalface every day. But often, a worker’s main concern is getting the job done as quickly as possible – speed is often confused with efficiency.

As an employer in the UK, you must take a wider and deeper view. You must ensure you employees do their job safely. In some situations, this will mean insisting they use personal protective equipment.

In this article, you’ll learn how the personal protective equipment regulations apply to your employees, and how to ensure your workers wear PPE when required.

Whatever happens, you are responsible for your employees’ health and safety

The law is unequivocal in making employers responsible for the health and safety of their employees while they are working. If their safety depends upon wearing and using certain personal protective equipment, then you must provide it.

How do you assess whether personal protective equipment regulations apply to you?

Simply put, personal protective equipment (PPE) regulations apply to all employers in the UK. However, this doesn’t mean that you will need to provide PPE to your employees. This depends on what risks exist in the workplace.

A risk assessment will determine the risks that exist in the workplace. By analysing the environment and how work is done, and considering what could go wrong, you will be able to put in place the controls needed to minimise those risks – an essential step to avoid the most common workplace accidents.

One of the controls you may need to introduce is PPE. For example, it’s a legal requirement that all those on construction sites wear hard hats.

PPE is a last resort

Before you impose PPE controls, you should involve your employees in examining the risks and discussing ways in which those risks might otherwise be eliminated. Personal protective equipment is always a last resort, because it will never eliminate risk, but simply protect against it. Every football team has a goalkeeper, but this doesn’t mean the opposition won’t score.

Speak with your employees, managers, and external specialists (for example, health and safety consultants) for ideas and best practices that may provide a physical or work practice change. This could eliminate risks. If risks are not eliminated, then you may need to provide PPE to protect against the remaining risk.

How do you make sure your people use PPE?

It can be difficult to get employees to use PPE. Having them involved in identifying and assessing risks and then creating health and safety policies and strategies to minimise them is a good starting point. You should also ensure that locations where specific PPE is required are clearly signposted. Other things you can do to make sure your employees use PPE include:

  • Providing the right PPE for the job, and ensuring it is easily accessible
  • Training of employees, helping them to know why PPE is necessary and how to use it
  • Stipulate use of PPE in the employees’ contracts of employments
  • Take disciplinary action if PPE is not used or is used incorrectly

Finally, you should also ensure that your employees understand their responsibilities. Their own safety should be as important to them as it is to you. They must:

  • Use PPE as per given guidelines
  • Report any damage
  • Return to the correct location after use

Would you like to know more about risk assessments, how to develop your health and safety policy, and how to put in place effective health and safety practices? For more information, contact Sentry today.

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