Employers not paying for protective equipment
Employers are breaking the law by failing to provide essential safety gear and forcing staff to pay for and maintain their own equipment.
A survey of safety representatives carried out by the TUC revealed more than 10 per cent had been forced to pay or provide their own personal protective equipment (PPE), including helmets, goggles and clothes.
The survey of more than 2,500 people also revealed female employees were less likely to be given PPE. Fifteen per cent said they had to provide all or some of their own attire.
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). Overall, 40 per cent of employers required to provide PPE by law are making staff pay for new equipment, replace broken equipment and clean equipment.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the abuse was widespread across many industries, including construction and catering.
He added: 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.’
CIEH head policy David Kidney said: It is alarming that many workers are being forced to pay for their own equipment. Businesses should heed the law and ensure their employees are fully protected.
A Health and Safety Executive spokesperson said: Where PPE is required, employers must provide appropriate equipment free of charge, and train employees to use it properly. When it is provided, PPE must be properly stored and maintained to make sure it continues working effectively and that workers are not put at unnecessary risk.
It is not enough just to have suitable PPE on the premises. It must be readily available at all times or, at the very least, there should be clear instructions on where it can be found.