Why do you need personal protective equipment (PPE) for your business?

Posted by Paula Stead on

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, protects the user against physical harm or hazards that are present in the workplace. It can include familiar items like hard hats, but also includes protective gloves, ear defenders, eye protection such as safety glasses, steel toed boots, face protection like masks, and much more – from high visibility clothing to safety harnesses.

PPE is often associated with reducing physical workplace injuries, but it also has a role to play in reducing the risk of contracting long-term conditions from things like being exposed to different chemicals and compounds which can take years of exposure to develop.

 All employers have a duty to protect their staff by providing the correct PPE for their employees to carry out their duties safely. Requirements will vary from one workplace to another, but PPE can only protect the user if it is available, appropriate to the environment and of the correct specification.

Along with protecting workers, providing the correct PPE also protects the employer. The law clearly states that if risks cannot be completely removed, PPE must be provided and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has the power to impose large fines if companies are found to have not provided PPE, or that provided inappropriate PPE if someone is injured.

What many employers don’t realise is that it is also their responsibility to get staff to use the PPE provided, no matter how challenging that may be. Businesses can face legal action if an employee suffers a work related injury or ill health due to insufficient use of PPE. Employees can’t be held responsible, regardless of stubbornness or ignorance.

PPE varies as widely as the risks in the workplace, with different products designed to protect against different situations. There are many considerations when choosing which products are appropriate for each work environment. For example, materials are important to consider when choosing gloves as some can be quickly penetrated by chemicals. When choosing footwear there are options for a range of different conditions – they can have oil and chemical resistant soles, they can be anti-static, electrically conductive or thermally insulating.

As a specialist provider, AP Workwear is able to help businesses ensure that they meet their legal obligations and provide the most appropriate equipment for their staff. This is of vital importance as the regulations not only stipulate that the equipment must provide protection against the identified risks, but it must also fit the wearer correctly. Different items of PPE must be compatible with each other and it must meet the ergonomic requirements of the people who will wear it.

However, protecting the health and safety of employees is not just about complying with the law, which is the minimum requirement – it is also about protecting your most important assets, your staff.