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Derek M
posted : September 16, 2009 Post subject: Legal duty to supply PPE
After consultation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), both RMT and the HSE have agreed on a joint campaign to make the inland/inshore and offshore diving employers aware of their legal duties to supply Personnel Protective Equipment Regulations (PPE).

The joint campaign to make the diving employers aware of their legal duties to supply Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) will be as follows

Action to be implemented by the RMT
1. RMT members to be contacted to obtain any specific complaints in relation to PPE amongst Divers. The complaints to be forwarded to HSE.
2. The RMT will use Union and Trade press to highlight PPE issues to the diving community.
3. A list of employers not complying with PPE regulations to be forwarded to HSE by the RMT
4. Awareness of PPE issues, duties and obligations to be raised across the Diving Community.

Action to be implemented by the HSE
1. Inspectors to be informed of PPE issues raised by RMT. These to be raised by inspectors during inspections/investigations.
2. Awareness of PPE issues, duties and obligations to be raised across the Diving Community via trade, industry and H&S committees, for example but in particular: ADC, Diving Industry Committee, Recreational Diving Forum, Dive shows, 'Sea Work' trade show
3. Diving Industry to be aware of PPE regulations. HSE stands at trade shows will inform the industry of their obligations
4. Best Practices among conforming employers to be recognised, promoted and distributed across the industry.
5. PPE issues to be raised at all Diving Industry meetings were parties are in attendance.

The RMT have written to all 383 of the known inland/inshore and offshore diving contractors explaining to them their duties and responsibilities in law.

The provision of Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) is a subject which was raised by members of the RMT, who asked, who was the responsible party for the provision of PPE which includes Diving suits, Thermal protective wear and diving gloves.

After much debate with the HSE over this issue, it was agreed that where a person was classed as an employee within the meaning if employment law, not fiscal law, those persons must have the PPE supplied by the employer in accordance with the European Directives, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA 74) and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE).

It is the view of the RMT and the HSE, those divers and other personnel who work on a casual basis, for what ever period of time, whilst engaged by a HSE registered diving contractor in the UK, working in the Inland Inshore and offshore diving sectors, will be an employee under a contract of service and not self employed.

Under the PPE Regulations an employer has a duty to supply all PPE under legislation and must ensure suitable PPE is provided to its ‘employees’ and ensure that any PPE supplied is hygienic, fits correctly and is supplied to each employer. This does not mean the individual purchase of PPE for every employer, but that a suitable selection of PPE that fits the wearer is provided to each employee whilst they are at work.

As a guideline the diving contractor will be required to supply all the following items of PPE to their employees irrespective of the employee’s tax status.

• A Diving Suit that is suitable for diving project task.
• Suitable thermal under suits as required to worn under the diving suits.
• Suitable diving gloves to protect the diver from the cold.
• Protective Coveralls,
• Wet Weather gear.
• Safety Boots.
• Industrial Gloves.
• Safety Glasses.
• Hard Hats.

Note, under the ODIA, the RMT has an agreement that employees will supply their own safety boots in return for a daily allowance of £0.52 per day which complies with section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

If the diving contractor does not;
1. Supply any of the above
2. Asks you to supply any of the above,
3. Refuses to employ you for not supplying any of the above
Inform the RMT whether you are a member or non member by one of the following;
Tel: 0191 456 1308,
Fax 0191456 1309
Email northeastshipping@rmt.org.uk or rmtppecampaign@aol.com

Make a complaint giving the name of the diving contractors who does not provide all or any of the above PPE to the workers on site.

The RMT will inform the HSE of the company name only and there will be no mention of your name or the project you are on. We have explained to the HSE of the reason for the confidentiality and they have accepted the reasoning.

The more guys complain over the issue the more the HSE will have to act on the complaints and the more the companies will have to provide the PPE which you have had to pay for out of your own pocket.


 
Derek M
posted : September 22, 2009 Post subject: Legal duty to supply PPE
First week over and to date 14 complaints have been received, which is early days considering there are estimated to be over 600 working in the inland inshore sector and not all read forums daily so word will need to spread.

After the RMT sent letters to all the employers reminding them of their responsibility they received a number of calls telling the RMT what they thought of them, some obviously not pleasant and no my mother does not partake in such activities and nor was I born out of wedlock.

Comments made to date are
1) “I’m just a one man band and I can’t afford all that cost”, replied “the cost must be borne by all employers irrespective of size and the larger the company, the more PPE must be supplied”.
2) “The divers would refuse to wear a suit someone else has worn in case the other guy urinated in it”, replied, the PPE regulations state PPE must be clean and hygienic, if the divers pisses in a suit, get him to clean and disinfect it personally and next time let him out of the water for a pee”.
3) “The guys are self employed, they invoice me and you are wrong on their employment status”, replied “seek legal advice from an employment QC, your wrong”.
4) “How come the HSE did not send the letters?” replied “this is a joint campaign and the RMT agreed to send the circulars with the HSE informing contractors through other methods expect a visit.”
5) “All this will do is close down businesses and put guys on the unemployment list”, replied “of there are 383 diving contractors on the RMT list registered to work in the UK, if one closes down the others will get the business and if you cannot afford equipment statutorily required then your breaking the law, you supply the diving helmets and they are PPE”.
6) “I pay over the £180 per day agreed wage” replied “agreed with who” he didn’t say. Replied “the issue is not about pay, but the employer’s liability within statute to supply PPE equipment”.
7) “I’m having a word with the ADC about this” replied, if you are a member of the ADC, the February newsletter informed you the RMT would be starting this campaign in the future, you had 7 months notice.

Three mail shots have returned with the company’s no longer trading or at the address and one mail shot was returned by phone that the person never existed or lived at the address provided to the HSE as he had lived there all his life and another from a company address that did not exist. Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the HSE contractor’s registration system?

So if the inland inshore or offshore guys working for non ODIA companies guys want to continue paying over a £1k and the cost of annual upkeep and replacement for their own PPE rather than the employers legally supplying it then keep shmut and don’t complain, if not let the RMT know if the diving contractor does not supply any PPE including diving suits etc.

Inform the RMT whether you are a member or non member by one of the following;
Tel: 0191 456 1308,
Fax 0191456 1309
Email northeastshipping@rmt.org.uk or rmtppecampaign@aol.com
Make a complaint giving the name of the diving contractors, the RMT will inform the HSE of the company name only and there will be no mention of your name or the project you are on. We have explained to the HSE of the reason for the confidentiality and they have accepted the reasoning.



 
Derek M
posted : October 6, 2009 Post subject: Legal duty to supply PPE
Third week and to date 37 complaints have been received, which again is early days. But lads remember it’s your industry and without complaints the RMT cannot act. Think on, do you want to pay for your own PPE or keep the money you are forced to spend supplying PPE including diving suits which the company should be paying for?

Another three mail shots have returned with the company’s not at the address and naughty them for not telling the HSE they’ve moved. Hope they realise they could be fined for a breach of the DWR 97. We’ll pass this to the HSE eventually

Had another company phoning the RMT who said; “When the HSE and not some asshole union tell me, I might consider supplying PPE, until then stick it where the sun don’t shine”. The RMT attempted to reply but got cut off. I assume he is not best pleased, but then again the truth hurts sometimes.

If you tell the RMT about companies not supplying PPE, we will inform the HSE of the company name only and there will be no mention of your name or the project you are on. We have explained to the HSE of the reason for the confidentiality and they have accepted the reasoning.


 
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