Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations

In the past PPE was governed by (EU) 2016/245 – it is now being implemented as a legally binding regulation, with some amendments. For example – hearing protection has been moved from category II to Category III – essentially it has now been classified as more important to protect your teams hearing.

PPE Category Classifications

PPE Category Category Description Activity Above the neck PPE product examples
Category I Simple PPE
(PPE designed to protect users against minimal risks)
Placing product on the market – manufacturers self-declaration Sweatbands
Cold Weather Hood System
Sun Capes
Category II Intermediate PPE
(PPE not covered within category I or III)
Initial Product approval Safety spectacles
Industrial helmets
Bump caps
Category III Complex PPE
(PPE falling under this category includes exclusively the risks that may cause very serious consequences such as death or irreversible damage to health)
On-going surveillance through testing or factory auditing Respiratory PPE
Industrial helmets claiming Molten Metal and Electrical Resistance(EU) 2016/425 PPE Regulation change: Hearing Protection

PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as gloves, safety helmets, eye and ear protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

A risk assessment will help to identify where you need to look at certain risks and these control measures in more detail. These control measures do not have to be assessed separately but can be considered as part of, or an extension of, your overall risk assessment. It is the Last Resort to use PPE, other avenues must also be considered.

Walker Health and Safety Services Limited have teamed up with Active Workwear to bring you a PPE info graphic. I would recommend that you issue to employees and display on noticeboards as the information could be beneficial to them.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services should you require further information.

PPE Infographic



Hidden Disabilities

Many people cope day in, day out with hidden disabilities, which include hearing or vision problems, mental illness or chronic pain. Employers and colleagues often struggle to take these disabilities as seriously as they should because of the lack of physical symptoms. But, organisations are now better-placed than ever to improve both the lives of skilled, talented staff and the general workplace environment.

if a colleague is completely deaf in one of their ears. They get very frustrated that, unless they keep mentioning it, no one takes this disability into account in meetings or when planning conference calls — but the truth is because we can’t see it, we usually forget it is an issue.

The burden is extremely real for the person involved.

Further, research by the charity Scope found evidence that more than 50% of UK employees with a less obvious disability worry constantly about losing their jobs. Scope adds that people with disabilities are twice more likely to lose jobs than their non-disabled colleagues.

Ironically, because many disabled people feel obliged to work harder and longer to prove themselves, they often appear to be better-performing workers. Conversely, asking for reduced hours is sometimes seen as a big negative.

A long disturbing list

The list of hidden disabilities that people still typically suffer in the 21st century includes the consequences of past physical injuries, arthritis and rheumatism, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, learning disabilities (LD), HIV/AIDS, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD).

It also includes psychiatric disabilities, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, grief, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Many people travel and work with cancer. They may be undergoing drug treatment which leaves them feeling nauseous, dizzy, tired and weak.

Migraines can be totally debilitating in ways that are hard for co-workers to understand.

Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition causing pain all over the body. It can also increase pain sensitivity, fatigue, muscle stiffness, sleeping difficulties, problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”) that effect memory and concentration, and cause headaches and irritable bowel syndrome with stomach pain and bloating.

Dyslexia is a condition that doesn’t differentiate who it affects. Even so, many people feel obliged to carry the weight of dyslexia at work by allowing themselves to be labelled lazy or disorganised for fear that their job, status and salary will be at risk if the truth is known.

Thousands of diabetic employees also have to put up with injecting themselves throughout their lives — and worry constantly about the future.

Progressive deafness, or profound hearing loss, affects many workers.

Managing hidden disabilities

Managing and mitigating hidden disabilities can impose a huge mental stress on top of the unpleasantness, chronic pain and fatigue of the original condition itself.

Occasionally, employees may not even know that they have a disability. They may feel unable to articulate their condition, which then leaves them feeling misunderstood and ignored. Or they may suspect that something is wrong, but don’t know what it is, or how to start fixing it.

A considerable number of employers are still reported not to react well to hearing that a member of staff has a mental disability such as bipolar disorder or depression. It is seen as a weakness rather than an affliction.

Being sent for an occupational health assessment can make matters worse; hints that one possible outcome could be dismissal only racks up the pressure.

So what can employers do?

Employer perspective

Many employers may very much want to help but don’t know what to do or say; they don’t want to cause offence. Educating staff and a change in culture helps managers, too, because a healthy and productive environment works for everyone.

A good starting point can be to create a safe space in which all employees feel confident enough to raise, explain and discuss what are often very personal and confidential issues. Taking special advice can be helpful, although it may best come from the employees concerned.

Raising awareness that hidden disabilities even exist will be a bonus as another barrier broken. Encouraging understanding in the workplace will prevent pointed glances at the clock, or derogatory comments about someone’s commitment.

Greater use of flexible working patterns is often a very useful tool. Rather than doing less, it is an opportunity to trust valued workers to work efficiently around their conditions.

Target support at the disability in question. Communications support is vital. for people with hearing concerns, good lighting, adapted telephones, an absence of background noise and even assistance learning lip-reading all go a long way. For those with visual impairments, additional risk assessments may be required, as may software that magnifies onscreen text or images.

Work with the employee in question to create an action plan, if required, to help them manage their condition and allow them leave to attend appointments connected with their health.

Employers should also acknowledge that travel can be a major issue even before work starts and long after it has ended.

The strain of regular commuting can be high if sufferers find it hard or embarrassing to ask for, say, seats on crowded buses, tubes or trains. In some instances, they report being helped only when they actually pass out. Could a parking space be arranged at work? Might working hours be adjusted to prevent travel in rush hour?

Another constant rub for externally fit-looking people is being told that disabled toilets are meant for the “disabled”. Bystanders frequently don’t understand what they can’t see. Supporting your employee, if relevant, in applying for and owning a Radar Key to unlock thousands of accessible toilets across the country instantly can be a great help.

Lets help one another in the workplace.

Contact us should you require further information.



What is a DSE Assessment?

Smart watch and phone safety

What is a DSE assessment

Most employers are required to carry out a DSE assessment, but what exactly is one, and what does it need to cover? Let’s start with finding out what DSE is, and then look at how we can assess it.

What is DSE?

DSE stands for Display Screen Equipment. As the name suggests, a DSE assessment is an assessment of Display Screen Equipment. Display Screen Equipment (DSE) is a device or equipment with a display screen and often refers to a computer screen. However, it includes both conventional display screens and those used in emerging technologies such as laptops, touchscreens and other similar devices.

In a work environment, desktop computers are traditionally looked at when considering DSE, but it is important to consider other display screens such as tablets, laptops and smartphones.

What is a DSE assessment?

A DSE assessment is an assessment of risk from the way we use computers, laptops, tablets and other display screens at work. Each workstation should be assessed, and the risks reduced as low as is practical.

A DSE assessment looks at how a user works at their workstation. Like any risk assessments, the aim is to identify the hazards and assess the likelihood and severity of harm to those that may be affected. Then, reduce the risk by altering the workstation or providing tools to make it comfortable.

If you have sat at a computer screen for a long time, you may already be familiar with some of the hazards. Poor posture or lack of movement throughout the day can lead to back pain. Staring at the screen for long lengths of time can give you headaches.

But it’s not just computer screens that are a problem. Slouching over your phone, tablet or handheld device for even a short length of time can give you neck and upper back pain.

Why do we need a DSE assessment?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations. These regulations lay out some key requirements for employers surrounding the use of DSE, one of which is the need to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of workstations used in the workplace.

2.—(1) Every employer shall perform a suitable and sufficient analysis of those workstations which – (regardless of who has provided them) are used for the purposes of his undertaking by users; or have been provided by him and are used for the purposes of his undertaking by operators The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 

Any workstation used by your business, regardless of who provides it, should be assessed. So DSE requirements apply to co-working spaces, remote working, temporary workplaces and your own offices.

However, this should not just be considered a tick box exercise to comply with legal requirements. A DSE assessment can actually help combat ill-health and conditions, such as epilepsy and therefore improve health and productivity in the workforce.

What does a DSE assessment cover?

Problems are often caused by the way we use our DSE. The screen might not give you back pain, but the way you sit at it could. Computer workstations or equipment can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain.

So, it’s not just the display screen that needs to be assessed. Everything to do with the use of the equipment should be considered. Other items looked at in the assessment includes, the keyboard, the mouse, furniture and the environment.

The assessment should also encompass the general environment and includes lighting, reflections, glare, temperature, humidity and noise. All of these elements can impact how the equipment is used, and the risks to users.

Contact us should you require a DSE Assessment.

The Walker Health and Safety blog is brought to you by the team at Walker Health and Safety Services Limited. You can contact us using the address or email address below or via the form on our main site.

e-Innovation Centre
University of Wolverhampton
Telford Campus
West Midlands

Telephone: 0845 834 0400
Fax: 0845 834 0401

Guest Blogging

If you feel that you could contribute to this blog then please feel free to send me a proposal of your guest blogging ideas and we can discuss these further . Please note any proposals must be of benefit to my readers from individuals with knowledge of their subject matter.

Reviewing your health and safety management system

The top management of any organisation should take ultimate responsibility for occupational health and safety (OHS). As part of this, there should be a process in place that enable management to review health and safety performance.

Purpose of management reviews

Reviewing health and safety performance closes the loop in the process and will inform the organisation whether it is effectively controlling risks and if the management system remains fit for purpose.

Focusing on the key words, the various standards available note the review should check that the system is:

  • suitable, in terms of whether the system is appropriate to the organisation, its operations, culture and risk profile
  • adequate, in terms of addressing the organisation’s policy and objectives and is therefore appropriate and sufficient
  • effective, in terms of whether the system is achieving the desired outcomes or results.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) takes a slightly more simplified approach and suggests that the purpose of the review is to establish whether the principles of strong and active leadership, worker involvement, and assessment and review have been embedded in the organisation.

Whatever the purpose, a management review, like other functions, will require thought and planning to achieve the necessary outcomes of the review process.

Undertaking management reviews

As the phrase suggests, management reviews must be led by top management and as such, the executive holding responsibility for health and safety should have the authority and remit to undertake the management review.

Key to the success of the management review process is ensuring the right inputs in terms of information and data. According to ISO 45001, this will be based around the elements of the management system and will include:

  • the status of actions from previous management reviews
  • changes in external and internal issues including stakeholder expectations, legal requirements and risks
  • the extent to which policy and objectives have been met
  • performance data on incidents, non-conformities, audits, compliance and worker participation
  • resource adequacy to maintain the system (financial, personnel and material)
  • communication with stakeholders
  • opportunities for continual improvement and risk management.

In addition, the HSE publication INDG417 suggests that a management review should examine whether:

  • the health and safety policy reflects the organisation’s current priorities, plans and targets
  • risk management and other systems have been effectively reported to the board.

Similarly, BS 18004 makes recommendations as to inputs into the management review process including any organisation-specific leading and lagging performance indicators. It also suggests the following be considered.

  • The state of preparedness for emergencies (including reports on actual incidents and exercises).
  • The performance of contractors and/or supplied goods and services.
  • The suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of current hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control processes.

Outcomes and actions

There will be outcomes from any management review process. Both ISO 45001 and BS 45002 state that the management review should draw a conclusion as to the continuing suitability and effectiveness of the occupational health and safety management system.

Outcomes should include decisions related to:

  • need for changes to the management system
  • continual improvement opportunities
  • resource needs
  • implications for the strategic direction of the organisation.

Changes required will clearly be organisation-specific and can address any element of the management system including changes to the H&S policy, revised objectives, increased need for competency, etc.

One of the key purposes of a cyclical management system is to take opportunities for continual improvement. This can be influenced not just by identified shortfalls in performance against benchmarked best practice, but also by identifying where new technologies, for example, can reduce risks that do not exceed excessive costs. Other improvements could relate to ensuring the system is fully aligned as an integral part of the business.

Any change or improvement may have resource implications and the management review should identify what these resource implications are. The process for managing change will depend on the types of outcomes from the review process.

The outcomes of the management review should be communicated and where necessary consulted on with relevant stakeholders both internal and external to the organisation.

However, it may be the case that the outcomes and recommendations may require top management review and approval prior to being released into the public domain and implemented. This will very much depend on the sensitivity of the outcomes and the organisation culture.

Adequate records also need to be kept that ensure the findings of the review process are available to relevant parties such as enforcing authorities, staff representatives, those undertaking future management reviews, insurers, etc.

BS 18004 recommends that the outputs should be “incorporated within performance reports for communication to their various stakeholders”. This could include annual reports to investors, corporate governance and social responsibility statements.

Finally, where the management review indicates areas of good performance or even performance beyond the objectives set, top management may wish to celebrate this and recognise/reward those responsible for good performance levels.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services for further advice.


Why health and safety training is needed

The Health and Safety at Work Act, etc 1974 states that employers should provide “such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees”. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 further require that employers provide employees with adequate health and safety training both on recruitment and when the risks to which they are exposed change, for example, where they move to a new role or when new work equipment is provided.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 go on to state that training should be repeated periodically where appropriate, be adapted to take account of any new or different risks and take place during working hours. Other sets of regulations which require training of employees include the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Organisations that have their health and safety management systems certified, for example to BS OHSAS 18001 or ISO 45001, are also required to conform to requirements concerning competence.

Unfortunately, when it comes to work-related training, there is no one-size-fits-all. Employers should consider who in their organisation needs training, what training should be provided, when, by whom, and when training should be repeated and refreshed. Consideration should also be paid to whether staff require formal qualifications for their role, such as facility managers, first aiders, or the maintenance teams responsible for legionella safety.

Ensure Employees follow Your Training: 5 Top Tips. Click here

Training – Contact Us for your training requirements or to discuss training solutions. Click here to look at our website training page.