The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (the “2022 Regulations”) came into force on 6 April 2022. This extends the rules surrounding PPE by updating the 1992 Regulations to more workers.

What protection was offered by the 1992 Regulations?

The 1992 Regulations required all employers to provide suitable PPE to employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health and safety while at work where there wasn’t an alternative way control exposure to harm. In other words, PPE was to be provided as a last resort, to protect employees once the risk has been reduced as far as possible by alternative means.

What are the changes under the 2022 Regulations?

The 2022 Regulations extend the protections of the 1992 Regulations to a wider group of workers. They oblige employers to provide PPE not only to employees with a contract of employment but also to those who provide services to a business personally (known as limb (b) workers in terms of s230 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

This includes those who work in the ‘gig economy’ for an employer without being formally classed as an employee: including, for example, those on short-term or temporary contracts, or those working as independent contractors. Recent reports have suggested this is around 15% of the workforce that work in the gig economy

Why has the law changed?

The High Court’s decision in Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] EWHC 3050 (Admin), concluded that the 1992 Regulations did not adequately protect limb(b) workers as intended by the EU Directive. The change to the Regulations will correct this omission

What steps should employers take?

In order to ensure compliance with the new Regulations, employers should identify whether it has any limb (b) workers within its business. If so, it should ensure that those workers are provided with appropriate and adequate PPE.

In practice however, the change will likely have less of a practical impact as an obligation to provide PPE to workers is already by s3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – which, requires employers to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that persons who are not employed by the business are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This section applies to members of the public, but also to independent contractors, agency workers and self-employed workers.

All employers should review their practices to ensure individuals coming under the limb (b) definition are receiving the protection legally required by the 2022 Regulations.

Given that the duty to supply PPE only applies where the risk has not been adequately controlled by other means, employers should continue to consider more widely what other measures could be put in place to minimise risks to staff. It may also be prudent for employers to review risk assessments already in place for tasks that limb (b) workers carry out.

13th May 2022

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