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– increasing cases of workers being asked to provide their own personal protective equipment

Patrick McGuire, PartnerUnion officials and prominent members of the legal community are alarmed by increasing numbers of employers reneging on their legal obligation to supply their employees with personal protective equipment (PPE).

There are calls for the Health and Safety Executive to put an end to this “worrying trend.”

PPE is intended to be worn or held by a person at work which protects against risks to their health and includes safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

Union officials have become increasingly alarmed that many employers are requiring workers to supply their own PPE.

Ian Tasker, Assistant Secretary of the STUC said:

“The obligation on employers to provide personal protective equipment is deeply enshrined in our health and safety legislation – legislation that is under attack from the coalition Government which appears to care little for the health and safety of workers.

“Enforcement resources are being slashed in the Health and Safety Executive and in local authorities – leaving the door wide open for employers to ignore their obligations to provide PPE, knowing full well their chances of being caught are remote.

“Lord Young, one time advisor to the Prime Minister, famously described health and safety as a music hall joke. We would say that health and safety is a basic human right and there is certainly nothing funny about employers exposing their workers to injury and ill health as a result of failing to provide adequate safety equipment.”

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty comments:

“PPE is an essential part of the relationship between employer and employee.

“Workers rightly expect to be equipped with adequate protective gear to allow them to conduct themselves safely in the workplace, and this expectation is enforced by law.

“It’s frankly appalling that some employers are putting pressure on their workers to buy, maintain and repair their PPE. Such a deliberate attempt to act outwith the law shows nothing less than contempt for the safety of employees, and cannot be allowed to continue.”

Partner at Thompsons Solicitors and expert in health and safety law, Patrick McGuire comments:

“That workers are given the protection they need to safely carry out their job is a fundamental right – and one clearly stated by the law.

“The worrying trend of employers across all industries demanding their workers to provide their own PPE shows a blatant and alarming disregard for employee health, safety and welfare.

“While health and safety legislation is often ridiculed as being supposedly petty, for some employees working in the UK, having the right safety equipment can mean the difference between life and death.”


Notes to editors:

•    For further comments/quotes from Patrick McGuire, contact Tim Weir on 07974 262 997

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