On 6 April 2022, the UK regulatory regime governing personal protective equipment (“PPE”) in the workplace was amended by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022.
Under the existing UK regulations, the obligations on employers to provide PPE only extended to employees working under employment contracts ("limb (a) workers"). Following a successful judicial review brought against the UK government in 2020, the new regulations expand employers’ obligations to also cover those working under casual employment relationships, such as contracts for service ("limb (b) workers").
Whilst not an exhaustive list, the HSE has given guidance that limb (b) workers are workers who generally:
- 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); and
- are not in business for themselves (they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly).
Employers with both limb (a) workers and limb (b) workers must now ensure that there is no difference in the way PPE is provided to each category. This may mean employers undertaking new risk assessments to determine the risks to limb (b) workers, ensuring any required PPE is provided and arranging training on the use of PPE.
It will mean more of step-change for employers with only limb (b) workers, as they will now be subject to the full gamut of the PPE regulations whereas they previously had no obligations. Notably, this includes the provision of free-of-charge PPE that is:
- suitable where health and safety cannot be controlled by other means, as ascertained by a risk assessment;
- compatible with other forms of PPE which must be worn simultaneously;
- maintained, cleaned or replaced as required;
- correctly stored when not in use; and
- used properly by ensuring workers are trained on the use of the PPE.