PPE and agency workers

We have received enquiries from agency workers asking whose responsibility it is to provide them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Is it the employment agency or the end-user? Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, the employment agency is responsible for ensuring any necessary PPE is provided to agency workers.

However, the responsibility for PPE does not end with the employment agency. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, companies should set up suitable and sufficient arrangements to protect the health and safety of people at work, including temporary workers. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) states that end-users must ensure the safety of their temporary workers, as it does that of its own employees. As such, the end-users are responsible for ensuring that agency workers are protected, which includes ensuring they are being provided with the correct PPE while working on their premises.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) fully recognises the joint responsibility of both the employment agency and the end-user for ensuring agency workers are provided with the correct PPE. The HSE states that the employment agency and the end-user should work together to ensure that they “provide protective equipment, at no cost to the temporary worker, agreeing arrangements for supplying and maintaining it”.

Clearly then, the responsibility to provide PPE to agency workers rests with both the employment agency and the end-users. When organising to demand the provision of PPE, it may therefore make sense for agency workers to target both the employment agency and end-users, especially if the end-user is a large company with deep pockets and open to pressure from media campaigns. In this case agency workers can demand the end-users provide PPE and later charge the employment agency for any PPE they provide.

If you are interested in organising in your workplace and want to know how to go about it, the Solidarity Federation runs a number of workplace organiser training courses.

For more information contact: solfed.training@gmail.com.