Is the employer obliged to provide personal protective equipment?

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The employer is always responsible for ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions. The employer must prepare each employee appropriate working conditions to take care of his health and life. The employer is obliged to provide, in particular, personal protective equipment. We explain the details in this article!

The basic obligations of the employer

Each concluded employment contract gives rise to certain obligations and rights both on the part of the employee and the employer. The Labor Code clearly states that the employer is obliged in particular to:

  • familiarize employees taking up work with the scope of their duties, how to perform work in designated positions and their basic rights;
  • organize work in a way ensuring full use of working time, as well as achieving by employees, using their talents and qualifications, high efficiency and appropriate quality of work;
  • organize work in a way that reduces the arduousness of work, especially monotonous work, and at a predetermined pace;
  • counteract discrimination in employment, in particular due to sex, age, disability, race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, trade union membership, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, and also due to employment for a fixed or indefinite period or in full or part-time;
  • provide safe and hygienic working conditions and conduct systematic training of employees in the field of occupational health and safety;
  • pay the salary in a timely and correct manner;
  • make it easier for employees to improve their professional qualifications;
  • create conditions for employees who take up employment after graduating from a school providing vocational education or higher education with conditions conducive to adapting to the proper performance of work;
  • meet the social needs of employees as far as possible;
  • apply objective and fair criteria for the evaluation of employees and the results of their work;
  • keep and store in paper or electronic form documentation on matters related to the employment relationship and personal files of employees;
  • keep employee documentation in a manner that guarantees its confidentiality, integrity, completeness and availability, in conditions that do not threaten to damage or destroy for the period of employment, as well as for a period of 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the employment relationship was terminated or expired, unless separate provisions provide for a longer period of storage of employee documentation;
  • influence the shaping of the principles of social coexistence in the workplace.

One of the basic obligations of every employer is to provide employees with personal protective equipment, which includes special footwear, clothing, glasses, masks or caps.

Personal protection

In fact, the list of personal protective equipment is very extensive. What a given employee can demand is really determined by the type and nature of the activities performed by him. For example, work related to contact with food will require the use of protective caps, gloves and special clothes, while many hours of work in front of a computer will require the use of special glasses with blue light filters. The most frequently used protective measures, however, are work shoes and special work clothes.

Regardless of the type of protective measures, each employer is obliged to make them available to all employees who are at risk of loss of health or life as part of their professional activities.

Pursuant to Art. 2376 of the Labor Code, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with free personal protective equipment against the effects of dangerous and harmful factors in the work environment and to inform him about the methods of using these means. The employer is obliged to provide the employee with personal protective equipment that meets the requirements for conformity assessment specified in separate regulations. Judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court in Gliwice of October 15, 2019 (file reference number III SA / Gl 527/19). technological, sanitary or occupational health and safety requirements, it is necessary to provide employees with free work clothes and footwear.

Any personal protective equipment must be provided by the employer absolutely free of charge - the employee cannot incur any costs (even partial) in this regard.

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Work without personal protective equipment

Providing the employee with protective measures is the primary responsibility of the employer. In practice, this means that the supervisor may not allow any person who does not use protective elements to work - otherwise, he or she seriously violates the regulations contained in the Labor Code.

Failure to provide personal protective equipment or issuance of a work permit without such elements justifies inspections by the Labor Inspectorate. An unprotected employee may refuse to perform his duties and report the matter to the competent authorities. In this case, refusal to perform work cannot be treated as a breach of employee duties - for this reason, the employee cannot be dismissed from work.

Art. 2379 of the Labor Code
The employer may not allow the employee to work without personal protective equipment, clothing and footwear intended for use at a given workplace. The employer is obliged to ensure that the applied personal protective equipment as well as work clothing and footwear have protective and functional properties, and ensure that they are properly washed, maintained, repaired, dedusted and decontaminated. If the employer cannot ensure the washing of work clothes, these activities may be performed by the employee, provided that the employer pays a cash equivalent in the amount of the costs incurred by the employee.
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What is not personal protective equipment?

The legislator provided that not all items offered to an employee may be regarded as personal protective equipment. In accordance with the applicable provisions of the Regulation of the Minister of Politics and Social Policy of September 26, 1997 on general health and safety at work regulations, personal protective equipment does not include:

  • ordinary workwear and uniforms that are not specifically intended to ensure the safety and health of the worker;
  • personal protective equipment used by the army, the Police and other public order services;
  • first aid and rescue equipment;
  • personal protective equipment used on the basis of the provisions of the Road Traffic Law;
  • sports equipment;
  • self-defense or deterrent measures;
  • portable devices for detecting and signaling threats and violations of public order.

Summary

The obligation to provide personal protective equipment each time rests with the employer. These measures are designed to protect the life and health of the employee. They are used primarily in works where there is a particular exposure of the worker. The employer must provide such funds at his own expense, if he fails to do so, the employee may refuse to perform his duties and report the matter to the Labor Inspectorate - there are no consequences for him and he cannot be dismissed.