Wednesday April 24, 2024

PPE – Know your Obligations

PPE – Know your Obligations

Did you know that by law all UK Employers must provide PPE free of charge if a risk assessment shows it is required? As an employer, you have a duty of care to protect and care for your employees, and where PPE is concerned, it is vital to work with a reputable supplier who can ensure the equipment you provide is fit for purpose and can offer adequate protection to the wearer.

Tailored Image provides a range of personal protective equipment for a variety of organisations, from blue light forces to construction workers, including high visibility clothing, helmets, footwear and masks. Working alongside our customers, we identify the best solutions for the individual needs of your organisation. Given that your obligation is to provide the equipment free of charge, we understand the cost implications of this, so we will always see the most cost-effective option without compromising the performance of the garments.

This blog will guide you in a jargon-free way through the process of using PPE in your organisation, via a step-by-step approach in line with the UK Health & Safety Executive guidelines. Should you have any further queries or concerns after reading this advice, our dedicated customer service team is on hand to help.


When is PPE required?

PPE for emergency services

Under UK legislation (specifically PPE at Work Regulations 1992 which were revised in 2022), employers must carry out a risk assessment to determine if and when their staff are in need of PPE. The aim of wearing PPE is to reduce the risk of harming themselves, and this harm can come from a variety of sources such as:

  • Falling materials from height
  • Extremes of heat and cold
  • Moving vehicles causing the chance of collision – requiring high visibility


How to manage risks with PPE

As with any risk assessment, the requirement for PPE is determined via a hierarchy of controls. PPE is the last resort in the protection against risks and controls should be considered in this order:

  • Elimination – physical removal of the hazard
  • Substitution – replacement of the hazard
  • Engineering – isolating people from the hazard
  • Administrative controls – changing the way people work
  • PPE – protecting staff via the use of personal protection equipment

Ensure to select equipment carefully, giving sufficient training to your staff on the correct use of equipment and how to detect and report any faults with it.


Selecting your PPE

Before making your PPE selection, it is important to consider who is exposed to risk, what kind of risks are they exposed to, how long is the exposure and how much of it. One of the best ways to determine this is to engage with the staff who will be using the equipment. Keeping your staff involved when selecting PPE will help keep them motivated and is more likely to achieve compliance when it comes to using their equipment effectively.

Engaging with a reputable supplier like Tailored Image is important in making the right selection. Whilst we provide a wide range of PPE equipment, we do not supply some of the more specialised equipment and will be able to advise on suitable suppliers for any items beyond our remit.

Selecting products which are CE or UKCA marked is a good indication that your equipment will be trustworthy.


Ensure to Size correctly!

A very important consideration in the selection of PPE is to choose the correct size for each staff member. Sleeves which are too long could cause injury through entanglement for example. Life jackets must fit correctly – a particularly important consideration for our provision of coastguard uniforms – otherwise a wearer could actually slide out of their equipment in water causing a potentially fatal accident.

At Tailored Image, we are obsessed with getting sizing right. We hold extensive wearer trials for our managed contracts, with our in-house technical and stitching teams carrying out adjustments to ensure every wearer’s uniform fits appropriately and provides all the user comfort they deserve. Modifications by the wearer are not advisable as they may not adequately protect against risk, so always ensure garments are well-fitting when being distributed.


Using PPE Effectively

PPE Jacket and helmet

If your risk assessment deems PPE is required, these items must always be worn for that task, regardless if it should only take a few minutes. Too many accidents at work occur when complacency or laziness creep in.

When more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, ensure they are designed to be worn together and that neither cancels out the effectiveness of the other. Hard hats and ear defenders are an example of when this is important.

Proper training and instruction on how to use PPE is equally as important as the equipment itself. Explain why each item is required, when and where it should be used and how to put it on and take it off effectively to avoid exposure to risk.


Maintaining your PPE

It is vital to ensure PPE is stored and looked after properly to ensure it continues to work effectively. Wearers should make proper use of their PPE and ensure to report any loss of items or any fault on the items they are given.

Some maintenance can be carried out easily by the wearer – for example replacing shoelaces on their steel toe cap boots, but it is advisable to have a dedicated staff member with responsibility for PPE and train them as to the standards expected of them regarding maintenance. They should ensure PPE is stored in an appropriate place such as a clean and dry cupboard and ensure reusable items are cleaned regularly. Not only will regular cleaning improve the aesthetic of the wearer, but it will also help restore the effectiveness of the garment. High vis clothing should be exactly that and the build-up of dirt can dull down the bright colours and worse still, negate the effectiveness of the retroreflective strips.

Consider the manufacturer’s replacement schedule for parts where necessary and always use the correct parts when replacing. Don’t opt for cheaper options which may deem the equipment null and void. In some cases, especially with specialist equipment such as harnesses, items may need to be returned to the manufacturer if maintenance is required. Make sure you have suitable replacements in the interim period while such maintenance is carried out.

Always keep replacement PPE for new starts, visitors etc to ensure everyone is protected when under your roof. Consider keeping a supply of disposable suits for this purpose.


Ensuring Compliance

Monitoring effective use of PPE is another important consideration. Carry out regular checks as to whether PPE is being used and if not, establish the reasons why. At times the reason can be as simple as people forgetting, so safety signs can be a useful visual aid for the memory. Use forceful language for particularly high-risk areas such as ATTENTION: NO ENTRY BEYOND THIS POINT WITHOUT APPROPRIATE PPE.


Your Duty as an Employer

If you’re required to supply PPE, you have a duty to ensure it complies with product supply legislation. Be aware of the requirements stated in Regulation 2016/425 as incorporated into UK law and The Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018 which are enforceable by the Health & Safety Executive.

As an employer, you must choose products which are UKCA or CE marked. Reputable suppliers will also have a Declaration of Conformity and instructions on how to use them. Only use your PPE in line with the instructions supplied by the manufacturer and if you have any concerns that the equipment you have been provided may be defective you can report this to the HSE.


For more information on Tailored Image clothing for the Emergency Services and Construction Sectors, please click the links here:

Emergency Services 

Construction Sector