The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires that an employer does everything that is “reasonably practicable” to safeguard their employees and those affected by their operations against health or safety risks at work.
These precautions could range from creating a safe place to work to providing training on how to perform their role in the workplace and the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
There is a common law duty on employers to undertake risk assessments of their work place and act accordingly by taking the necessary pre-cautions. Importantly, in light of the current pandemic, all employers will need to conduct further reviews of their risk assessments due to the significant change in which we all find ourselves in and the way we now need to work. Employers will need to make sure that they provide the necessary protection of their employees against the risk of infection, including COVID-19.
It is important to note that employers must undertake these risk assessments prior to providing employees with PPE. They will need to consider whether the PPE provided is the most suitable for the role to be undertaken and whether it suits the individual characteristics of the employee.
The exact safeguards, training and PPE will vary depending on the industry in which you work and the risks associated with your job role.
What is personal protective equipment (PPE) and what should I be provided with?
PPE is equipment that protects the employee against health or safety risks whilst at work.
The law makes clear that PPE should be the option of last resort once all other possible provisions have been implemented to make sure you are safe in the work place. The Health and Safety Executive points out that even where controls and safe systems of work have been implemented, some hazards might remain. It is in these circumstances that PPE will be necessary to provide further protection to further reduce the risks.
The risk of injury can include:-
- the lungs, eg from breathing in contaminated air
- the head and feet, eg from falling materials
- the eyes, eg from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
- the skin, eg from contact with corrosive materials
- the body, eg from extremes of heat or cold
To protect against these risks, employers must provide items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.
As we have all seen in recent media reports, the provision of PPE to key workers fighting COVID-19 includes items such as face shields, masks, aprons and gloves.
It is important that all employers provide their employees with the necessary training on how to use the PPE as failure to do so may lead to greater risks for the individual. Employers must also make sure that any PPE provided is correctly fitted to the individual and, in circumstances such as face masks, tests undertaken to make sure they are effective before an employee uses them in their role.
Coronavirus COVID-19 and PPE
At the current moment in time, a lot of businesses and industries are not open for business whilst some have the facilities to allow their employees to work from home. Following the Governments announcement yesterday, a plan is being rolled out over the coming weeks and months with guidance on when the business may re-open.
There is no one size fits all answer to how businesses can protect their employees. What is required in a healthcare setting for nurses, doctors and other care workers will be different from those working in a supermarket or an office environment. It is therefore important that every employer ensure that an adequate risk assessment, training and PPE where necessary is in place and are sufficient to cope with the threat of COVID-19.
Do I have a claim against my employer?
If an employer fails to meet any of these requirements and you get injured or contract an illness as a result, you may have grounds for claiming PPE compensation from your employer. If you believe this has happened to you and you would like to discuss your situation further, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your claim further.
Here at Farleys, we are maintaining our service to our clients throughout the lockdown. If you, or someone you know has a query with regards to a personal injury claim, do not hesitate to contact one of our team today. Call 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email.