Health and Safety Executive consultation on amendments to PPE Regulations

22 July 2021

Author: Ben Johnston
Practice Area: COVID-19 , Health and Safety

Boardroom

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has begun a 4 week consultation on proposed changes to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPER), which will conclude on 15th August 2021.

PPER places a general duty on GB employers to ensure that suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided to employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work. At present, therefore, employers only have a duty to their ‘employees’ working under a contract of employment. The proposed changes to PPER would also place a duty to provide PPE to ‘limb (b) workers’ who fall outside the definition of ‘employee’.

The catalyst for the update to the PPER stems from concerns raised in respect of health and safety obligations to gig economy workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWUGB) sought judgement that the UK had failed to properly transpose Council Directive 89/391/EC (“the Framework Directive”) and Council Directive 89/656/EC (“the PPE Directive”) into domestic law.

The High Court held in November 2020 that there had been a failure to transpose obligations on employers to provide ‘limb (b) workers’ with PPE. HSE advise that changes to PPER will align it with the High Court judgement and that they are seeking views on issues such as the costs of training workers to use PPE; the types of PPE that will be required; and the likely additional costs and wider impacts that may follow as a result of the change.

Comments can be submitted via HSE’s consultation portal: CD289 - Amendments to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 consultation - Health and Safety Executive - Citizen Space (hse.gov.uk)

Northern Ireland

The equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993, also does not currently require that employers provide ‘limb (b) workers’ with PPE. In light of the above, it is likely that similar steps may be taken to amend the NI legislation in line with the PPE Directive in due course.

If you would like any further information or advice, please contact Ashleigh Birkett or Ben Johnston from the Health and Safety team at Carson McDowell.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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