Important PPE changes that impact all building firms

PPE regulations for building firms – there have been changes! Effective from 6 April 2022 the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022), are amendments to the 1992 Regulations (PPER 1992).

They extend employers’ and employees’ duties regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) to limb (b) workers.

We’re not talking Covid security type PPE – this is the personal protective equipment that builders have always been required to use – safety helmets, eye protection, high visibility vests and jackets, protective gloves, protective footwear and so on.

An employer’s duties unchanged but extended

Under PPER 2022, the types of duties and responsibilities on employers and employees under PPER 1992 will remain unchanged but will extend to limb (b) workers, as defined in PPER 2022.

If PPE is required, employers must ensure their workers have sufficient information, instruction and training on the use of PPE.

A limb (b) worker will have the duty to use the PPE in accordance with their training and instruction, and ensure it is returned to the storage area provided by their employer.

What this means for employers

PPER 1992 placed a duty on every employer in Great Britain to ensure that suitable PPE was provided to ‘employees’ who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work.

PPER 2022 extends this duty to limb (b) workers and comes into force on 6 April 2022. Employers need to carefully consider whether the change to UK law apply to them and their workforce and make the necessary preparations to comply.

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. This group are employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and are already in scope of PPER 1992
  • Limb (b) describes workers who generally have a more casual employment relationship and work under a contract for service – they do not currently come under the scope of PPER 1992

PPER 2022 draws on this definition of worker and captures both employees and limb (b) workers:

‘“worker” means ‘an individual who has entered into or works under –

  1. a contract of employment; or
  2. any other contract, whether express or implied and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual;

and any references to a worker’s contract shall be construed accordingly.’

How do I know if they are a limb (b) workers?

Generally, workers who come under limb (b) have the following responsibilities:

  • 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)

As every employment relationship will be specific to the individual and employer, the precise status of any worker can ultimately only be determined by a court or tribunal.

Please note: These changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self-employed’ status.

What if I have both limb (a) and limb (b) workers?

By 6 April 2022, you need to ensure that there is no difference in the way PPE is provided to your workers, as defined by PPER 2022. This means assessing the risk and ensuring suitable PPE is provided, when needed, to all people that fall under the definition of worker.

You need to ensure that your limb (b) workers are provided with PPE free of charge, where required, by 6 April 2022.

What this means for limb (b) workers

If a risk assessment indicates that a limb (b) worker requires PPE to carry out their work activities, the employer must carry out a PPE suitability assessment and provide the PPE free of charge as they do for employees.

The employer will be responsible for the maintenance, storage and replacement of any PPE they provide. As a worker, you will be required to use the PPE properly following training and instruction from your employer. If the PPE you provide is lost or becomes defective, you should report that to your employer.

How PPER 2022 legislation will be enforced

HSE inspectors already include assessment of PPE as part of their routine inspections. Enforcement action can range from verbal or written advice to enforcement notices and, in the most serious cases, prosecution of dutyholders.

How HBXL can help with PPE regulations for building firms

Health & Safety XpertThe correct PPE is a legal requirement for building firms. We have updated the documents in our health and safety software for building firms, to reflect the new legislation. Health & Safety Xpert contains all the documents that should be observed on the construction site of extensions and residential new builds. Once the software knows what you’re building it calls off the documents relevant to the project. All the policies, checklists, audits, rules, statements, risk assessments, COSHH assessments, Toolbox Talks and so on.

You have a legal obligation to keep everyone on and around the site safe as the owner of the business. The new PPE rules for building firms extends your responsibilities. Health & Safety Xpert goes a long way to giving you peace of mind.

What next?

Call us on 0117 916 7898 if you don’t have Health & Safety Xpert and would like to know more. Or you can book a short online demonstration here.

If you have the software but your Support & Updates package has lapsed, then call us on 0117 916 7892 to talk through how you can get your hands on the important 2022 update which focuses on PPE for building firms AND the latest Covid-19 documents. Read the full list here.

Want PPE training?

Our partner training company offer a Personal Protective Equipment Training Course. It shows how wearing PPE plays a crucial role in preventing and reducing fatalities, injuries and diseases that would otherwise occur in the workplace. It’s an online course made up of 6 modules and takes 60 minutes. It costs £35+VAT. Why not book for everyone you have on site? Read more here.