How will the new PPE law affect your business?

Gavin Scarr Hall - Director of Health and Safety

March 27 2022

There’s been a health & safety update. So, if they aren’t already, PPE assessments need to be first on the agenda.

The changes to PPE regulations launch off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic which harshly highlighted gaps in legislation. Previously, not all workers had legal protection from health & safety risks – but as of 6th April, they will.

Not sure how the update affects you? Here’s what you need to know…

What are the new PPE at work regulations?

The law splits workers into two limbs: limb (a) and limb (b).

Previously, you only had to provide PPE to official employees – the limb (a) workers.

In the new PPE regulations, your responsibility remains the same but extends to every other worker who isn’t an employee – the limb (b) workers.

How do I know if someone is a limb (a) worker?

It’s all in the contract.

Not every worker is an employee. An employee – a limb (a) worker - works for you under an employment contract. They’re typically contracted to work a specific number of hours and will receive a regular wage or salary. They’ll also receive a holiday and sick leave allowance, the terms of which you should set out in their contract.

If your worker has an employment contract, they’ll still be an employee whether they have a short contract, they work flexibly or part-time.

How do I know if someone is a limb (b) worker?

A limb (b) worker can be anyone who works for you on any other type of contract but isn’t self-employed. They might be a casual worker, an agency worker, or a freelance worker who works short-term jobs for multiple businesses.

They’ll typically:

  • carry out casual or irregular work
  • not get the same benefits as an employee, such as getting holiday pay or statutory notice
  • choose the work they do
  • work for businesses, not themselves

Will the PPE regulations update affect my self-employed workers?

If you hire self-employed workers, the new PPE regulations will not apply to them. Workers who are ‘self-employed’ typically:

  • run a business and are responsible for it
  • work flexibly and can carry out work whenever and wherever they like
  • provide their own tools and equipment they need to do their job

What PPE regulations do I have to follow?

By law, you have to implement safety systems where there might be a risk of harm to workers. As it only protects the wearer, PPE should be a final resort after ruling out any other control measures. It should be an added measure to further reduce safety risks.

How do I know if I need to provide PPE?

If your limb (b) workers might be at risk of harm, you now need to put protective measures in place that are in line with the new law.

You can find out if you need to provide PPE by carrying out a risk assessment of your workplace.

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How do I carry out a risk assessment?

To find out whether you need PPE and the most suitable type for the job, follow this process:

  1. Find out if there are any hazards and risks your employees might face at work. Be specific about what the hazard is and how it could harm someone.
  2. Decide who is most at risk.
  3. If possible, physically remove the hazards. Ask yourself: do workers need to handle hazardous equipment or substances? Can you change the way they work to reduce their exposure? Can you cut down the number of workers exposing themselves?
  4. If you can’t remove the hazards, consider whether you could reduce or substitute them for a safer alternative.
  5. If you can’t minimise or substitute the hazards, PPE might be the best option to reduce safety risks.
  6. If you decide you need PPE, you’ll need to assess that it’s suitable for your workers.
Need to carry out a risk assessment?

Whether you need to create a risk assessment or report accidents in a click, identify your hazards in real-time and stay safe on the go with BrightSafe.

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How do I make sure the PPE is suitable for my workers?

If PPE is necessary, you need to be clear on what type of PPE you need.

Consider the hazards in your workplace and choose the PPE that would be most effective at protecting workers. Do you need protective gloves? Eye shields? Hearing protection?

It’s important not to be vague. If you need eye protection, what type of eye protection? If you need hearing protection, what level? If workers wear hearing protection that overprotects (has too high of an SNR) they won’t be able to hear important sounds like warning cries or alarms.

Likewise, eye protection designed to protect against pesticides probably won’t be suitable for workers who cut metals all day. Be specific.

After you’ve chosen your PPE, you’ll need to take the next step and go through your PPE checklist.

What’s my PPE checklist?

To make sure you’ve covered all bases, go through and tick off the following:

  • Is the PPE is suitable for the job and user?
  • Have you face-tested the PPE to the wearer if providing Respiratory Protective Equipment?
  • Is the PPE free of charge?
  • Will workers use the PPE daily?
  • Do you know how to clean, maintain, store and replace the PPE?
  • Have users had full training and instructions on how to use the PPE?

Time to review your PPE?

When there’s a change in legislation, you want to be ahead of the game.

Finding the risks in your workplace and overcoming them might seem like a difficult task. But with SafeCheck, it’s simple. Your consultants will carry out a virtual tour of your workplace and identify any potential hazards. Then, they’ll help you eliminate them.

Speak to your advisers about SafeCheck today or call 0800 0687 825 for a free consultation. 

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