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PPE Legislation Has Changed: How to Prepare Your Workforce

In 2016, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive 89/686/EEC was updated and this change came into effect in Q2 2018. These regulatory changes define PPE and what it covers.

Categories have changed too and there is a maximum five year certificate validity according to the BSI PPE Whitepaper.

As a business owner, what PPE legislation do you need to know?

All businesses need to know what has changed before the recent April 2018 deadline, as outlined in the PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425, in order to update their H&S policies and extend on what they already (should) know from the original legislation.

The time to plead ignorance has passed.

Your company could be caught out and prosecuted for non-compliance at any time, especially when employee safety is at stake. It is likely you will have needed to re-assess any workplace hazards since the change in PPE regulations to prevent accidents in the workplace. Did you?

Know Your New PPE Categories

There are now seven categories of PPE protection: 

  1. Hearing Protection
  2. Head Protection
  3. Eye & Face Protection
  4. Foot Protection
  5. Hand & Arm Protection
  6. Body Protection (including Knee & Leg)
  7. Respiratory Protection

Make sure that you assess what your workers need for maximum safety within each of those 7 categories. It may be that they do not need any equipment from some of those categories, but it is likely their job will fall under at least 1.

Why You Need to Take Note - Workplace Safety Statistics

Image of Statistics
The numbers don't lie

Have a read of the Health and safety at work Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018 published by the HSE. The UK is the safest place to work in Europe, and that is down to the work of the Health & Safety Executive and the modern evolutions in PPE technology.

Lost time incidents still cost the economy £15Billion in 2017 yet Economic losses have been on a downtrend since 2004. There is a correlation with increases in education, suitability and awareness of the purposes of Personal Protective Equipment.

You have to ask yourself: is there causation? Does PPE actually work to prevent injury and illness?


Yes it does.

  • 99% of noise-induced hearing loss is preventable with the correct hearing protection. There are Ear Defenders and Plugs to suit all working environments, and there are no excuses.
  • 84% of workers who sustained a head injury were not wearing head protection. Hard hat technology (and regulation) has moved rapidly in the last few years spawning designs and styles for any given trade and bump caps come in an array of styles to suit lower risk activities.
  • Wearing gloves reduced hand injury by 60%, so insist on gloves that are suitable for the job at hand. (pun intended)

Even minor incidents that happen in the workplace cost time, productivity and money to your business, so it is important you avoid as many events as possible. Don't wait for a near miss to wake you up to your responsibilities enshrined in law.

You have a legal obligation and a moral duty as an employer to keep the workplace and your employees safe. You can do this by complying with the PPE Regulations and not cutting corners for profit.

Enforcement Starts With You

Rules and Regulations

98% of employees claim to have seen colleagues not wearing the correct PPE equipment in the workplace. The reasons cited for not wearing it correctly have included poor fit, lack of accessibility, discomfort and even an unattractive or unfashionable look.

As a manager of a workforce you are required to enforce the correct usage of PPE in the workplace. To make your life easier, it may help to encourage a culture of workers looking out for their colleagues too. Motivate your workforce to consider their long term health and that of their mates.

A safety brief on workplace accidents is a good idea to help them realise just how important their health is.

Improvements to PPE are being made all of the time to make it more comfortable and safer. If you receive complaints of poor fit of a worker's PPE, then you may need to update your worker’s safety kit to get them to comply fully.

At What Cost?

As a business owner, you need to provide PPE for your workers and replace it when needed free of charge. You may not charge your staff or expect them to buy their own - you must make PPE freely available.

Of course, you are also required to provide insurance against worker injury, illness or death as you would likely be required to pay compensation if your employee suffers an injury on site. 

Specialist PPE equipment can be expensive but it is less costly than having to pay out in compensation, lost time, the loss of your business, and in some cases imprisonment for directors.

You can save all that money and plausible life-changing disaster by not skimping on protective equipment for your personnel. And you can save yourself a great deal of work and outlay when you buy it in bulk from a BSiF Registered Supplier such as Xamax Workplace Solutions, who will be only too pleased to guide you in the right direction.

The price of safety is low compared to the potential costs to your business and the actual costs to the United Kingdom economy as a whole.