What do I need to know about the new PPE regulations?

What do I need to know about the new PPE regulations?
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In April 2016, a new EU Regulation was introduced to update and improve the rules that govern Personal Protective Equipment manufactured, distributed and sold on the market within the EU. Two years after its introduction, the EU Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulation became fully enforceable (on 21st April 2018). But what changes have been made? And how do those changes affect companies that buy PPE?

Here is a quick guide to the key changes and what they mean for those responsible for health and safety and purchasing PPE:

  • The new PPE Regulation replaces the old PPE Directive
    The old PPE Directive (89/686/EEC) has been repealed and replaced by the new PPE Regulation ((EU) 2016/425). The new Regulation is a binding legislative Act that has to be fully implemented across the EU. However, the PPE at Work Regulations 1992 that govern employers on the suitability, provision, maintenance, instruction and use of PPE still stand, but now require employers to acquire PPE in line with the new PPE Regulation.
    Crucially, from 21st April 2018:
    – new PPE articles requiring certification must follow the Regulation 2016/425 procedure process
    – PPE certified to Directive 89/686/EEC before 21st April 2018 can be sold until 21st April 2019
    – old certificates will not become invalid until 21st April 2023.
  • The new regulation affects the whole supply chain
    The rules of the new PPE Regulation apply to the whole supply chain, rather than just manufacturers. In fact, everyone involved in the manufacture, supply and distribution of PPE is responsible for ensuring their PPE meets the new requirements. This includes making sure PPE conforms to the Regulation and that technical files and records are kept.
  • The scope of the PPE Regulation has changed
    The scope of the new Regulation has been expanded to include PPE designed and manufactured for private use too, including items that protect against heat, such as oven gloves. Distance selling is also now covered by the Regulation.
  • There are changes to some categories of protection
    Certain types of protection have moved from Category 2 (Intermediate) to Category 3 (Complex). A significant change includes reclassifying all types of hearing protection against harmful noise to Category 3 (Complex), recognising that protection is required against a serious risk where the hazard is not always immediately obvious. This means hearing protection items are now subject to stringent conformity assessments.
  • All PPE must be supplied with an EU Declaration of Conformity
    A Declaration of Conformity is now a mandatory document that must accompany all PPE items on the market. This is a document that is signed by the manufacturer to state that all legislative requirements are met. Where a product meets a combination of EU regulations, a single Declaration of Conformity can be used. Products also carry a CE Mark to signify that a product meets the safety, health and environmental protection requirements.

The new PPE Regulation covers a complex area of safety law and the points listed above are just a snapshot of the key changes. Any person or organisation in charge of ensuring the safety of workers should ensure that they are fully informed of the requirements and expectations.

You may find the following resources useful (however, Contego Safety Solutions is not responsible for and has no control over these sites nor should it be read that Contego Safety Solutions endorses or recommends the content of these sites):

The PPE Directive and the PPE Regulation: The history and future of PPE Certification – A whitepaper; published by BSI

Regulation (EU) 2016/425 on personal protective equipment; European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

Understanding the revised PPE Regulation; Safety & Health Practitioner

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