PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
What is personal protective equipment (PPE) and what are some of the types?
If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate a foreseeable risk to the health and safety to anyone at the place of work, an employer must eliminate the risk. If it is not reasonably practicable to do so, an employer must control the risk. Controlling the risk may involve the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by workers, in order to reduce their exposure to hazards.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) refers to the equipment worn by workers to reduce their exposure to hazards.
PPE includes such items as:
· eye protection (goggles, glasses);
· hearing protection (ear plugs, ear muffs);
· respiratory protection (respirators, face masks, cartridge filters);
· foot protection (safety boots);
· head protection (hard hats);
· body protection (aprons, safety harnesses).
What are the worker's obligations in relation to personal protective equipment (PPE)?
As a worker, you must co-operate with the OHS requirements stipulated by your employer. If your employer's rule is that PPE should be worn, then you must wear it. In addition, you must not intentionally or recklessly, interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interest of health and safety, which includes PPE.
These are legal obligations of employees provided under Section 20 and 21 of the OHS Act 2000.
Who has to pay for the personal protective equipment (PPE) required at the workplace?
The employer must pay for all safety equipment.
Section 22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 makes it an offence for an employer to charge an employee or permit a charge to be imposed for any safety equipment.
Do employees have to pay for the replacement of personal protective equipment (PPE) if they lose it?
No, Section 22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 states that it is an offence to charge an employee or permit a charge to be imposed for any safety equipment.
What happens if an employee refuses to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?
An employer is expected to develop a policy and procedure that clearly explains the workplace requirements and the action that will be taken for failure to comply with the policy. This policy should cover PPE requirements at the workplace.
The policy must be developed in consultation with the employees through the safety committee, health and safety representative or other agreed arrangements and the union.
If an employee continues to resist wearing or using PPE, then the employer would be expected to take stronger action such as disciplinary action or moving the employee to another area. All of this should be documented in the procedure.
If the policy is developed in consultation, then this reduces the risk of industrial action should an employee be terminated or disciplined for breaching safety rules.
The employer as well as the employee could be subject to fines or prosecution for the employee's failure to wear or use PPE.
An employee has a duty to co-operate with his or her employer to enable compliance with the legislation in the interests of health, safety and welfare (section 20 of the OHS Act 2001). This duty includes following the PPE requirements at the workplace.
A person (including an employee) must not intentionally or recklessly, interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interest of health and safety, which includes PPE (section 21 of the OHS Act 2000).
Who has responsibilities with regard to PPE?
Employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers and visitors as a control measure when work hazards are unable to be eliminated or adequately controlled by other methods. (Clause 15 of the OHS Regulation 2001)
An employer must undertake a risk assessment before choosing PPE as the appropriate control measure. Clause 15 of the Regulation states that the employer must:
· ensure that the equipment provided is appropriate for the person and controls the risk for that person;
· ensure that the person using PPE is informed about any limitations of the equipment;
· ensure that appropriate instruction and training is provided so that the equipment controls the risk for the person;
· ensure that the equipment is properly maintained, repaired or replaced as necessary to control the risk for the person;
· provide clean and hygienic equipment;
· ensure that equipment is stored in a place provided by the employer for that purpose; and
· clearly identify places of work where PPE must be used.
Employees also have obligations under the OHS Act 2000 to:
· co-operate with any requirement imposed by the employer in the interests of health, safety and welfare(section 20), and
· not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety and welfare (section 21). This can include the use, cleaning, storage etc of PPE.
For further information contact:
AMIEU Office on 02 4929 5496