Importance of PPE Raised On Workers’ Memorial Day
With many around the world remembering those who have sadly lost their lives in the workplace, this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April has highlighted the need for greater awareness of the continuing importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The Health and Safety at Work Act requires employers to protect employees from risk in the workplace as part of their duty of care and includes, where necessary, the provision of PPE.
Yet despite 46 years of the Act being in place, employees continue to work without appropriate protection. Failure to follow best practice unfortunately is still common and the current Covid-19 pandemic and concerns about the availability of PPE is a reminder of just how critical this responsibility is in safeguarding the health of workers.
Experts at Irwin Mitchell have handled many legal cases concerning exposure to substances such as silica and asbestos dust which succeed where employers knew the risks and could have protected their staff from those dangers, by taking precautions and importantly, providing them with PPE.
Employers need to demonstrate they have done all they can to protect workers or risk similar actions to those who have permitted employees to be exposed to asbestos or any other occupational disease, while being aware of the risk to health.
Expert Opinion“We have helped many clients over the years in connection with occupational disease and PPE remains an important issue in many cases.
Where it can be established that contraction of a disease occurred as a result of breach of duty on the part of the employer, then an employees’ entitlement in law would be the same as if they developed any other occupational disease as a result of their employment.” David Johnston-Keay - Partner
The long term effects on people who have survived Covid-19 are still unknown and those who suffer illness but avoid death may still face a long road to recovery. Workers’ families may be entitled to a bereavement support payment from the DWP where a person has died due to an accident or a disease caused by work.
David added: “During these uncertain times, employers need to bear the current law in mind when considering the steps they take to protect their workforce.
We only have to look at the legacy of asbestos exposure in this country to see what happens when risks are taken with people’s lives at work through failing to provide protective equipment.
We have already seen over 20,000 deaths in UK hospitals during the current lockdown and Workers’ Memorial Day is an important time to remember those who have been lost but to also remember to heed government advice and keep people safe while working.”