PPE Regulations Are Changing

How does this affect you?

Posted on: 28/01/2016   By: Lee Rance

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive (89/686/EEC) was first introduced in Europe over 20 years ago. A European Directive is a legislative act that sets out an objective that all EU countries must achieve by a given date. However, it is up to the individual countries to decide how this is done. In the UK we implemented the PPE Regulations 1992 (now 2002) in order to comply with the European Directive.

Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0

PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets and hard hats, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

The European Directive is being updated in order to reflect current technologies being used and developed. The changes also mean that the old Directive will now be re-implemented as a Regulation rather than remain in its current status. This means that the new Regulation must be applied in its entirety across the EU without the need for separate national legislation.

The existing PPE directive focuses on manufacturers, the new regulation will be effective over the whole supply chain. Anyone involved in the supply and distribution chain will, therefore, have to take appropriate action to ensure the PPE meets the required standards.

Some of the other key changes of the new standard are likely to be:

  • A number of types of protection will move from category 2 (intermediate) to category 3 (complex), for example hearing protection and life jackets.
  • A requirement to supply a declaration of conformity with every item of PPE that is placed on the market.
  • Introducing a five year certificate of validity to bring it in line with similar European requirements such as the Medical Devices Directive.

Employers and safety managers who are responsible for the purchase of PPE need to ensure that their providers will be able to meet with the new Regulation to protect employees.

PPE is split into three categories, this is how the categories should look after the regulation changes:

Category 1 – Simple PPE

PPE in this category is designed to protect users against minimal risks. These include as examples:

  • superficial mechanical injury;
  • contact with water or cleaning materials of weak action;
  • contact with hot surfaces not exceeding 50°C;
  • damage to the eyes due to exposure to sunlight (other than during observation of the sun);
  • atmospheric conditions that are not of an extreme nature.

Category 2 – Intermediate PPE

PPE in this category protects users against risks other than those listed in categories I and III, as well as made-to-measure PPE (excluding PPE that falls under category I. The following products are included as examples:

  • Safety spectacles and goggles
  • Industrial helmets and bump caps
  • Bicycle helmets

Category 3 – Complex PPE

PPE falling under this category is designed to protect against mortal danger or dangers that may seriously and irreversibly harm health; the immediate effects of which the designer assumes that the end user cannot identify in sufficient time. Risks include:

  • inhalation of harmful substances;
  • aggressive chemicals;
  • ionising radiation;
  • high-temperature environments the effects of which are comparable to those of an air temperature of at least 100°C;
  • low-temperature environments the effects of which are comparable to those of an air temperature of -50°C or less;
  • falling from a height;
  • electric shock and live working;
  • drowning;
  • cuts by hand-held chain-saws;
  • high-pressure cutting;
  • bullet wounds or knife stabs;
  • harmful noise.

The new regulation will be fully enforced at the end of 2018 with a 2 year transition period leading up to that time.

Until next time.

Lee Rance