Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Protected Characteristics) Bill tabled in Parliament


The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Protected Characteristics) Bill, a Bill to require employers to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) provided at work to people with certain protected characteristics within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 is suitable for the wearer and for connected purposes, has been tabled in Parliament.

The Bill will put the onus on employers to ensure PPE provided to people with certain protected characteristics is suitable for their needs.

Introducing the Bill, Labour MP Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) said that current PPE regulations do not make any specific mention of women. She told the Commons: “This omission is one which continues to have significant real-world consequences. The world is finally waking up to the fact that women are not just smaller men.”

Hardy noted that “reference to the Equalities Act can be found in guidance surrounding the regulations, but it’s not statutory. Well-fitting PPE should not be seen as best practice, it should be the minimum standard”.

While most distributors stock women’s PPE, she added: “The issue can sometimes lie with employers, despite it being readily available on the market.”

Ill-fitting PPE has been found to cause a range of health and safety issues which included increased slip, trips and falls, increased risk of entanglement, limited range of motion, decreased dexterity from gloves and impaired vision from safety glasses.

“Worryingly, 42% of women reported experiences of relating to ill-fitting PPE which has impacted their careers and long-term health problems,” Hardy added.

The Bill has received widespread industry support and is expected to progress to the second reading on 7 June 2024.

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