PPE, or personal protective equipment, is any equipment which is used in the workplace to protect against potential accidents or injuries. Examples of when you might need PPE include if you work in a warehouse or on a construction site, or if you come into contact with harmful chemicals or other substances as part of your job. PPE can include things like safety boots, face masks and eye protection, and it is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with the right PPE and ensure that it is fit for purpose. The consequences of not using PPE could be that you suffer a serious, life-changing injury or illness as the result of an accident at work – or a worker could even be killed.
What are some of the most common types of PPE?
There are some types of PPE that are more common than others, and the consequences of not using PPE at work could be serious, which is why it is so important to recognise the hazards of your job and ensure that your employer provides you with the PPE you need. Here are a few of the most common types of PPE you’ll come across:
- Eyes: Safety specs, goggles, face shields and visors offering protection against radiation, gas, projectiles, chemical splashes and dust
- Ears: Ear muffs and ear plugs offering protection against noise
- Head/neck: Safety helmets, hairnets and bump caps, offering protection against head bumps, objects falling from height or flying through the air, chemical drips and splashes or getting your hair tangled in machinery
- Hands/arms: Gloves or gauntlets offering protection against cuts, impact, extreme heat or cold, radiation, chemical spills, vibration and electric shock
- Feet/legs: Safety boots or shoes with steel toe caps, or safety wellies, offering protection against wet, cold or hot conditions, cuts, slipping, heavy loads, falling objects and vehicles (such as forklifts)
- Lungs: Face masks and respirators protecting you against dust, gas, vapours and so on
You will also find whole body PPE such as boiler suits, overalls and so on.
Examples of when PPE is needed
The consequences of not using PPE could be serious injury or a fatality – in fact, a study carried out in the healthcare industry in 2007 revealed that lack of PPE availability was responsible 37% of cases of noncompliance with PPE regulations. Some examples of when you may need to wear PPE at work could include:
- Wearing a face mask when you are working in an environment with hazardous dust, gases or chemicals, for example in a factory of building site
- Wearing steel toe capped boots on a building site or whilst working in a warehouse to reduce the risk of suffering broken bones in your toes or feet (for example if you are run over by a forklift or if you drop a heavy load on your feet)
- Wearing a hard hat on a building site to protect against tools or supplies falling from scaffolding and hitting you
These are just a few examples and there are many more out there.
Your employer’s responsibility when it comes to PPE
There are PPE regulations in place to ensure that employers are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to providing their staff with the right PPE for the job. The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 outline the main requirements for employers, and are designed to protect employees against the consequences of not using PPE. So what do the regulations require? Employers must:
- Ensure that PPE is only used as a last resort, when health and safety risks can’t be controlled in other ways
- Ensure that PPE is:
- Properly assessed to ensure it’s fit for purpose
- Properly maintained and stored
- Used correctly by staff
- Provided with instructions for safe use
It’s not just the consequences of not using PPE at all that could be serious – you could be injured if the PPE you are provided with is not fit for purpose, or if you have not been given instructions and training on how to use it safely. If this has happened to you, Accident Advice Helpline could help you make a 100% no-win, no-fee* personal injury claim that could help you out financially after your accident. It’s up to your employer to keep you safe – yet accidents can and do happen. In fact, in 2015/16, 72, 702 injuries were reported under RIDDOR, according to statistics from the HSE.
Who should provide PPE?
As you can see, PPE has an important role to play in the workplace, and your employer should ensure that it is provided for you, if your job puts you at risk. Regulation 4 of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 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.”
Compensation for the consequences of not using PPE
As we mentioned earlier, the consequences of not using PPE can be as serious as the consequences of using faulty PPE. If your employer has not provided you with PPE or if the PPE you have is faulty or not fit for purpose, you could get in touch with Accident Advice Helpline to find out about making a personal injury claim. There is a three-year time limit in place for all claims, so it’s best to get in touch with us for advice as soon as possible after your accident. You may have suffered a serious head injury from lack of head protection on a building site, or broken bones in your foot after your employer failed to provide you with safety boots whilst working in a warehouse or factory.
Whatever has happened – and however minor your injuries – you should be able to make a claim if somebody else was responsible and you had to seek medical attention after your accident. You don’t have to suffer the consequences of not using PPE in silence. You can get in touch with us by calling our freephone helpline on 0800 689 0500 (or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile) to get advice from our team of expert advisors, with no obligation to proceed with a claim.