PPE must be provided for all ‘workers’, not just employees

Following a High Court ruling, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is intending to make changes to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPER). 

They will mean a company must ensure all ‘workers’ have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for a job. Previously, the requirement was understood to cover only people employed directly. The ruling makes it clear it also covers labour-only sub-contractors.

HSE is consulting on the changes from Monday 19 July for four weeks. If you want to comment, you can do so online, starting from the Consultation Hub here

The aim of the consultation is to understand the impact on stakeholders and businesses of extending the scope of employers’ duties under PPER. However, changes will have to be made because they have been required by the court.

The High Court judgement in November last year followed a judicial review action brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) against the Secretaries of State for Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Work & Pension (DWP). The judicial review determined that the government had failed to transpose EU directives about PPE into UK law properly, leaving them applying to employees only.

The changes required by the court extend the employer’s responsibility for the provision of PPE to limb (b) workers (also known as dependent contractors, or labour-only sub-contractors).

Options on how to achieve the extension of the provisions to workers will not be presented during the consultation as the key legislative changes are being made to align with the court's decision.

For any enquiries, contact [email protected].