Guide

Agency workers' health and safety

Provide agency workers with personal protective equipment

Businesses using agency workers must ensure that the workers have the same level of health and safety protection as ordinary employees.

Types of protective equipment

If user businesses provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as protective clothing, agency workers should receive equivalent PPE if they are exposed to the same risks.

Agency workers who use computers and similar equipment with screens will need suitable workstations and rest breaks. Unless a worker is genuinely self-employed, both the user business and the agency have responsibilities. The employer is responsible for paying for eye and eyesight tests. See free eye tests for employees who use computers.

The more hazardous the work your business carries out, the more you need to do. There are specific requirements for certain work, including:

  • chemicals
  • the use of work equipment and machinery
  • manual handling
  • the use of electricity
  • the comfort of the working environment

Who is responsible for proving PPE?

Legal responsibility for providing this free of charge lies with whoever is the worker's employer - this might be the agency or the user business. If you're not the employer, you may agree to provide what is necessary (whether you're a user business or an agency), but you cannot charge the worker for it.

In only a few cases, where workers are genuinely self-employed, will they be responsible for providing their own PPE. For more information, download the guide to PPE regulations (PDF, 143K) .

Businesses using agency workers and agencies themselves need to work together to ensure that the right equipment and facilities are provided and procedures are followed. See co-operate to protect agency workers' health and safety.