What would you do in this situation?
You've contracted the services of a labour broker. He's given his employees PPE to wear, but you've done a risk assessment and don't think the PPE is adequate.
Can you force him to increase the PPE allocations to his workers? If so, to what extent can you do this?
Attention! Health and Safety specialists face fines imposed by the DoL!
Recently, the Department of Labour (DoL) conducted over 190,000 impromptu health and safety inspections. It even shut down a company for failing to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
Employers have been warned that there will be many more inspections.
Don't let them show up at your door unannounced.
Can you lawfully force your labour broker to supply the minimum amount of PPE?
Check your contract. If your contract states that your labour broker is required to provide PPE to the people he supplies to you, then you can legally enforce it. He's responsible to provide appropriate PPE according to the hazards to which his employees will expose themselves at your site.
If your contract doesn't mention that the employees the labour broker supplies must come equipped with PPE then it's your legal duty to provide the PPE according to your hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control measures.
If your contract stipulates that the employees your labour broker supplies are equipped with PPE, then that PPE should meet the requirements you specify in the contract. If the labour broker doesn't provide appropriate PPE (appropriate type, number and quality), he would be in breach of contract. You could then take legal action against him to rectify the breach of contract.
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Four options if you don't think the PPE is adequate
Ultimately, you're still responsible for the health and safety of all persons on your site. If any of them injures himself due to inadequate PPE, you could be liable for damages.
So, you have the following options:
1. Don't allow anyone to work on your site without adequate PPE provided by the labour broker;
2. Provide everyone with suitable PPE and recover the cost from the labour broker;
3. Terminate the contract with the labour broker. It's been breached by inadequate provision of PPE; or
4. Look for another labour broker and negotiate a contract with specific PPE requirements.
It goes to show that observing correct health and safety in your workplace goes hand-in-hand with knowing the rules for managing your staff correctly and legally.