If you ask someone to draw something that represents Health and Safety in the workplace there is a good chance that they will draw a piece of PPE, and most likely a hard hat.
The original PPE regulations, issued in 1992 as part of a “six-pack” of regulations that lay the foundation for Health and Safety, aligning UK regulations with European Directives.
New, amended, regulations came into force on the 6th April 2022 under which the existing duties remain unchanged, but there are new duties introduced for “limb (b)” workers
What is a limb(b) worker?
In the UK, section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996’s definition of a worker has 2 limbs:
- Limb (a) describes those with a contract of employment.
- Limb (b) describes workers who generally have a more casual employment relationship and work under a contract for service
Limb (a) workers are employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and are already in scope of PPE Regulations 1992
Limb (b) workers are not classed as employees and prior to the new amendment regulations did not fall under the requirements under the scope of PPE Regulations 1992
Generally, workers who come under limb (b):
- carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations;
- after 1 month of continuous service, receive holiday pay but not other employment rights such as the minimum period of statutory notice;
- only carry out work if they choose to;
- have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (the contract doesn’t have to be written) and only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work, for example swapping shifts with someone on a pre-approved list (subcontracting);
- are not in business for themselves (they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly).
Please note: These changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self-employed’ status.
What are the changes from 6th April 2022?
If you employ limb (a) and limb (b) workers:
- You need to ensure that there is no difference in the way PPE is provided to your workers, as defined by PPE Regulation 2022. This means assessing the risk and ensuring suitable PPE is provided, when needed, to all people that fall under the definition of worker.
If you employ limb (b) workers only:
- You need to ensure that your workers are provided with PPE free of charge. This means assessing the residual risk once all other measures (such as engineering controls) have been taken.
- You then need to ensure suitable PPE is:
- Correctly stored
- Used properly
- You also need to provide training and instruction in its use to all your workers.
- You cannot charge workers for PPE they require to carry out their work.
What should you do?
- Clarify the employment status of all workers in your business. Every business is different in how they engage work so you may need to take advice from your competent HR Advisor;
- Use this as an opportunity to review PPE use in your business. Remember the priority is to eliminate and manage risk, using means such as engineering controls and safe systems of work. If PPE is required as a last resort, have you correctly identified the right types and specifications of your PPE;
- Use the publicised change to engage with your employees, and ensure they are trained and instructed in the use of PPE and its care, and know how to report damage to their PPE and how to obtain a replacement.