If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or if someone has died due to inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) then you may be able to claim for compensation. Our workplace injury team has represented many people and families, following an injury or fatality due to a lack of PPE, talk to us as soon as possible to investigate a claim.
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What is personal protective equipment?
PPE is equipment that protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
The HSE point out that even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain.
These include injuries to:
- The lungs, eg from breathing in contaminated air
- The head and feet, eg from falling materials
- The eyes, eg from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
- The skin, eg from contact with corrosive materials
- The body, eg from extremes of heat or cold
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The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 duty requires that an employer does everything that is “reasonably practicable” to safeguard their employees and those affected by their operations.
Employers must therefore assess the risks that are present in their workplace and act accordingly. This now includes making provision for employees against the risk of injury or infection, including the Coronavirus COVID-19.
The general Government guidance for employers on coronavirus stresses that employers should make sure workplaces are clean and hygienic, promote regular and thorough handwashing, and promote good respiratory hygiene.
The PPE an employer should be providing will vary depending on the nature of the work that is involved and where this is undertaken. What are examples of PPE? The Regulations also require that PPE is fit for purpose so that it offers adequate protection and that those using it are trained in its safe use. Incorrect use of PPE can put workers at greater risk.
PPE should be correctly fitted, taking into account individual circumstances such as body shape, any impairment or health condition. Some PPE is deliberately designed to be single use, given the inability to disinfect it after use. Sharing of PPE should be avoided, with equipment to be assigned to specific individuals, especially where the equipment is tailored to the specific employee’s requirements such as sizing. Altering or making adjustments to PPE is to be discouraged.
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PPE and Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic
Employers, including the Department of Health, must ensure that adequate risk assessments, training and equipment are in place and are sufficient to cope with the threat COVID-19 presents. What is required in a healthcare setting for nurses, doctors and other care workers, where gloves, aprons, masks and and screens may be proportionate to the risk, may not the be same as what is required by supermarket workers.
Within Public Health England guidance, there are different requirements applying to different NHS personnel, these are: For those working within one metre of a patient with possible or confirmed COVID-19, those employees should be provided with a surgical facemask, apron, gloves and eye protection.
Staff delivering or assisting with an aerosol generating procedure in Intensive Care Units or the hot zone of an Emergency Department should be provided with an FFP3 respirator, a long-sleeved disposable gown, gloves and eye protection.