The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is concerned business owners in the UK are not doing enough to prevent accidents in the workplace. Employers have a duty of care to reduce the risk of harm or injury to their employees. In work environments that expose employees to potential hazards such as chemicals or falling rocks, employers have a responsibility to provide the correct protective workwear.
Failure to provide appropriate workwear for employees can result in expensive legal action and bad press. In the most serious cases employer´s negligence is punishable by imprisonment. It is therefore in the interests of employers and employees to adhere to British safety standards.
Health and safety regulations
Safety in the workplace is regulated by The Health and Safety at Work Act and The Health and Safety Act or the Management of Health and Safety at Work Act. The laws stipulate that employers will be liable to pay their debt to society if they fail to reasonably provide safety and welfare in the workplace.
Although your insurers might cover legal expenses should a court action be brought against your company, they will put the premium up which will prove more costly in the long-run than ensuring you are providing a safe working environment and the right safety wear for workers.
It is advisable for companies to employ a professional with health and safety training to periodically check the work environment for potential dangers. If an area cannot be cornered off, it may be that protective clothing solves the issue.
You can get all types of different safety workwear, from heeled shoes to full-arm length rubber gloves. Specialist manufacturers produce workwear for every eventuality so you have no excuses for providing the right protective gear.
It should also be noted however, that employees also have a duty of care to behave responsibly and prevent causing injury to themselves or others. Employees have a responsibility to wear the protective clothing and keep it in a good condition that it will continue to protect them. Failure to do so will be offset against any damages you are found liable for by the courts.
For example, if you provide a worker with a pair of safety goggles and the elastic grows old and loose, you could argue that an eye injury could have been prevented if the goggles were strapped to the employees head securely. Because the worker had failed to maintain his equipment to ensure it was safe for him to work an employee cannot be held entirely responsible.
However, employees must make it explicitly clear which safety clothing is to be worn in which areas and whenever possible the rule should be enforced. Therefore thinking about what potential risks you have in different areas of your workplace. Once an employee has been issued with PPE requirements, they are responsible for their own actions and any injury caused by their own negligence is not the fault of the company. As they old adage goes, it´s better to be safe than sorry!