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PAYMENT FOR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

TUC reveal “scandal” of workers forced to pay for necessary equipment

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has published a survey revealing that “despite laws which say employers must give their staff personal protective equipment (PPE) free of charge, more than one in five workers are being forced to pay for it out of their own pocket”.

A total of 2,684 people responded to an online TUC questionnaire between March and June 2012. Of these 2,502 were users of PPE. The most common forms of protection used by those who responded to the survey were footwear (84 per cent), gloves (72 per cent) and overalls or aprons (50 per cent).

HSE guidance on the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 Regulation 4 states:

“by virtue of Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, no charge can be made to the worker for the provision of PPE which is used only at work. Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “No employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the relevant statutory provisions”. Section 9 applies to these Regulations because they impose a ‘specific requirement’ – i.e. to provide PPE.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said

“The fact that so many employers are flaunting (sic) the law is an absolute scandal.

Far too many workers are being forced to provide their own safety protection, whether footwear, boiler suits, overalls or gloves, and this abuse is widespread across a wide range of industries ranging from construction to catering. Even when equipment is provided it is often expected that the worker cleans it or replaces it if damaged.

Safety equipment is needed to ensure that workers are protected from injury or disease, yet there appears to be very little enforcement of the law. As a result many workers – often those in low-paid service jobs like catering and cleaning – are having to fork out from their own pocket, or go without. This must stop. With the governments cutback of proactive inspections in the workplace this abuse can only grow.”

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