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Could rules be changed on agency workers’ PPE?

Could rules be changed on agency workers’ PPE?

All businesses that engage temporary or agency staff on either a short or long term basis could be in for additional costs as consultation has begun on rules to provide them with the same levels of PPE as employed staff.

At present, current rules on PPE for temp and agency staff state that PPE must be provided by self-employed workers, agencies and subcontractor companies. However, a High Court judge ruled late last year that the UK had not adequately implemented an EU directive requiring companies to provide PPE to all those who work for them, a case was launched and won by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain meaning that a full consultation by the HSE must now take place.

Although the findings of the recent consultation are yet to be revealed, many firms in the construction sector believe that this will mean a considerable increase in the cost of providing agency and other temporary workers with PPE, even if they did not require it as they have already had PPE supplied by the agency or subcontractor they are engaged by.

What’s next?

Those involved in the HSE consultation on the subject have made a statement that the intention is to remove PPE costs for the worker and place them firmly at the feet of the user or contractor. This stance continues to divide opinion in a wide range of industries that rely on temp and agency workers on a regular basis.

With many believing that agencies and subcontractors should foot the bill for worker PPE, some working within certain industries believe that a change of rules could simplify PPE management for all personnel regardless of their contract. It could also ensure that all workers are correctly attired in matching uniforms and have access to the same levels of PPE as their directly employed counterparts.

It has been predicted that the consultation will result in new laws being put into place that strictly follow the EU directive so that each and every self-employed, temporary, agency and sub-contractor worker is provided with the exact same PPE as an employed member of staff. This applies even if they are only on-site for a single day or half day, which many see as wasteful and expensive.

However, should the new laws be passed, then it will put an end to poorly equipped subcontractors lacking the appropriate PPE on site – a situation that can lead to a higher risk of accident and injury. 

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