Office PPE Equipment: Does Your Employer Have To Provide PPE?

Over the past year, businesses across the globe have had to adapt to protect their workforce. Whilst the British government’s advice is that those who can work from home should do so, some essential businesses are unable to operate remotely. For these enterprises, the way offices operate has drastically changed, with the introduction of social distancing measures in the office being one step taken to meet Covid-secure workplace guidelines. However, one area that has been questioned for those continuing to work in an office, and those who are returning to work after periods of remote working or furlough, is office PPE equipment.

In this article, we will investigate what the rules and guidelines regarding office PPE equipment are, when staff are required to use PPE in an office, the effectiveness of PPE in this setting, and whether your employer has to provide PPE by law. Any mentioned guidelines and laws are applicable in England, and may differ from other areas of the UK, unless stated otherwise.

What Are The Guidelines on Office PPE Equipment?

In advice agreed between the NHS and public health authorities of the UK, some level of autonomy is granted companies to make their own decisions surrounding PPE, whether that is if PPE is required and what PPE should be used. These decisions should be made based on a risk assessment and agreed between the business owners and staff.

Social distancing and proper hygiene practices is one of the best approaches to take to mitigate the risks of Coronavirus transmission in office spaces, but this is not realistic for every workplace or in every scenario. . For example, if desks cannot be spaced more than one metre apart, or an employee works in close proximity with multiple people, personal protective equipment may be required. This may include disposable face masks, face visors and disposable gloves.

The Effectiveness Of PPE In An Office

No matter whether you work in an office, in retail or in the private sector, it has been proven that face masks are one of the most simple yet effective ways to protect those around you. They create a barrier that stops respiratory droplets travelling into the air. This makes masks a highly beneficial piece of office PPE equipment, especially if your role relies on speaking to other staff or members of the public on a regular basis.

If face masks are unavailable, face visors are a good supplement, but should not necessarily be used in their place. While they do block the forward motion of the respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze, they are able to move around the visor and spread out over a large area.

A combination of mask, visor, social distancing and regular hand washing can create an extremely effective barrier. Guidance should also be made available to employees on how to properly use and dispose of PPE to keep themselves and others safe.

Does Your Employer Have To Provide PPE?

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (1992), every employer should ensure that PPE is provided to their employees who may be exposed to a risk while at work. The only exception to this is where and to the extent that such a risk has been managed by other equally or more effective means. This means that if your employer has conducted a risk assessment and has identified that office PPE equipment is required, it should be provided within the workplace.

It is also stated in Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) that your employer cannot charge you for the use of PPE, whether it is on a temporary basis or indefinitely. It’s worth noting, however, that this does not apply if you are self-employed; you may be required to provide your own in this scenario.

How Clarity Can Help

Recently, Clarity Global Group have seen a rise in businesses seeking advice on office PPE equipment and whether as an employer they have to to provide PPE. The unprecedented changes that we have seen over the past year have caused confusion and uncertainty around how to make office spaces safe, but we have been on hand to help.

We have many years of experience in distributing PPE to ensure that employers and employees have the correct PPE in an office. If you are an employer and have questions about the products available in our online shop or which is the best office PPE equipment for your business, contact us and our team of experts will be happy to help.