What kind of personal protective equipment should my employer give me?

If your employer cannot control your exposure to chemicals by any other means they should provide, free of charge, gloves, masks, overalls or other personal protective equipment (PPE). See workSMART's Hazards at Work section and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH).

PPE should fit you properly and be the right type for the chemical you are using. Your employer must train you in how to use PPE correctly, and must make sure that PPE is stored and maintained properly and replaced when necessary.

You must not be charged for PPE.

TUC survey published in 2012 revealed that even though the law requires employers to supply PPE to their staff free of charge, more than one in five workers are being forced to pay for it out of their own pocket. 

Construction union UCATT has issued a warning against the dangers of counterfeit/fake PPE and warns construction workers to make sure all the equipment issued to them is genuine. UCATT is also calling for an end to the practice of selling PPE through vending machines on site, because PPE should be provided for free and should also be risk-assessed.

Remember that latex gloves themselves are a major cause of allergic contact dermatitis.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.