Labor Code and health and safety clothing
Chapter 9 of the Law of June 26, 74, gives us all the information we need about safety clothing. For almost half a century, employers and employees have been obliged to obey the same rules and it is not expected that this will change. Let’s take a look at the most important information from the Labor Code.
First of all, find out who is responsible for ensuring that you have safety clothing. In this case, the act is transparent and benefits the employee. The employer is responsible for all personal protective equipment worn by the employee. Both the provision of health and safety clothing, protecting against hazards at work, and the training of the employee are directly required from the employer free of charge. This is the case even when the work may just soil the employee’s clothes. An example is cook aprons in the catering industry.
The matter is not so simple, however, as it is the employer who determines the workplaces where occupational health and safety clothing is required. This means that the work requires protection at the discretion of the employer, he takes responsibility for any accidents. However, it is very doubtful that the cook splashed with sauce sued the employer for failing to deliver an apron. However, this point of the act is not so funny when we are dealing with work that threatens the health and life of the employee.
As the lawmakers did not consider it appropriate to put everything in the hands of the employer, there are some jobs that require health and safety clothing regardless of the employer’s opinion. These are all activities where you work in direct contact with machines or radioactive, infectious or simply chemical agents.
If an employee owns health and safety clothing that meets the quality standards, he can use it in his work and even receive a cash equivalent from the employer. It is a certain saving for the employer and a convenience for the employee.
In the event of any damage or soiling of the health and safety clothing during work, the employer is responsible for storing the clothing outside the employee’s working time, and then disinfecting and repairing it. In practice, it boils down to the fact that the clothes are sent to laundries from time to time, which are often run by factories where OSH clothing is produced. This procedure is officially called servicing.
The standards of occupational health and safety clothing are also quite precisely defined, there are many restrictions, which of course rest with the employer. Personal protective equipment should be adapted to the existing risk, not pose a threat by itself, be adapted to the working conditions, comply with ergonomic requirements and take into account the employee’s health condition, as well as be physically adjusted to the user. This makes for a fairly simple-to-understand picture that clothing should be warm in winter and airy in summer, should not be too uncomfortable and must provide protection, not a threat.
Another very interesting thing stipulated in the act is the prohibition to modify occupational health and safety clothing at the discretion of the employee or employer. The purchased clothing is to be used as stated, with all its components. This means that if we bought a certified protective helmet, but decided, for example, to attach something to it, for reasons known only to ourselves, then it is no longer a full-fledged safety clothing that meets the standards. It’s good to know, psychological research clearly shows that people tend to express themselves through their outfits, especially when other people are wearing the same type of clothing.
The original point is something that may not be so obvious to many people. Namely, people visiting the workplace should receive health and safety clothing from the owner of the workplace. This means that if, for example, an inspector comes to a construction site or factory, the owner of the site should provide him with things such as a helmet, dust protection overcoats, reflectors and the like. In practice, inspectors often do not want to change their clothes into health and safety clothing, but the act clearly specifies such an obligation.
Regardless of the relationship between the employer and employees, and to what extent the atmosphere in the workplace is relaxed, it is unacceptable to be allowed to work without safety clothing. The employer cannot tell the employee that he does not have to wear a helmet today, because it is so comfortable for him. It is not the responsibility of the employer once the rules for using the position have been defined.
The Labor Code very clearly and precisely defines the issues of health and safety clothing and their use in the workplace. A certain amount of freedom is left for the employer, which he can use when establishing the rules, but he himself must not break them. The Polish state places great emphasis on employers who take care of the safety of their employees, making them highly responsible in the event of negligence. The most important thing, however, is that we, regardless of our position in the company, be aware of these rules, our rights and obligations.