Construction union Ucatt raised the issue at a meeting of health and safety body Coniac yesterday.
Executive council member Dennis Doody said: “Increasingly Ucatt officials are finding that agencies are forcing workers to supply their own PPE.
“This is against safety regulations and given growing concerns about fake and counterfeit PPE, being available in the construction industry, places already vulnerable workers at greater risk of injury.”
But leaders of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation said the union had got its facts wrong.
Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of Policy and Professional Services said: “Claims made by Ucatt today seem to have missed the point that many people working in construction are self-employed and, under the current regulations, would be expected to provide their own PPE along with the tools of their trade.
“In a demand-led industry like construction, being self-employed, for the vast majority of the workforce, is a matter of choice.
“Our ongoing work with bodies like the Health and Safety Executive and our members speaks volumes about our commitment to health and safety regulations.
“We have never denied that occasionally there are examples of bad practice, which is exactly why the REC sits on committees like Coniac along with Ucatt – to help eliminate these poor practices.
“We welcome complaints from workers and employers through our complaints procedure if they are concerned about the actions of any REC members. These issues are investigated and action taken if we believe that our Code of Professional Conduct has been broken.
“The REC and its dedicated Construction group are more than happy to meet with UCATT and discuss how to promote health and safety regulations to the industry.”