The first PPE Directive was adopted over two decades ago in 1992, and revised in 2002, which means an update was long overdue. An updated regulation was adopted on the 12th February 2016 in order for industries to stay abreast of burgeoning technologies, designed to help keep employees safe in the workplace.
The directive was published twenty days later, and regulations will apply after a two year transition period. What personal protective equipment regulations should buyers be aware of in 2017?
Well, start preparing now, because by April 2018, new regulations have to be followed. The regulations apply to all protective equipment. The British Standards Institute (BSI), a national standards body in the UK, created a whitepaper on the PPE Directive and the PPE Regulation. Some changes move certain equipment to a different category, allowing for a larger breadth of protection.
The definition of PPE is as follows as it pertains to the new PPE regulations:
1. Equipment to Protect Against Risks to Health and Safety
Any equipment worn or held by a person to protect against one or more risks.
2. Equipment with Interchangeable Components
Interchangeable equipment essential for protective function (e.g. filters).
3. Equipment with Connexion Systems
Connexion systems is equipment that connect items but does not permanently fix them together. Equipment not held or worn by an individual but designed to connect to an external device or an anchorage point - not intended to be fixed permanently and doesn’t require fastening before use.
The PPE Regulation doesn’t apply to PPE which is:
- Designed for use by the armed forces or law enforcement.
- Designed for self-defense, excepting PPE for sporting activities.
- Designed for private use against
- extreme atmospheric conditions
- damp and water in dishwashing
- Designed for use on seagoing vessels or aircrafts
- Designed for helmets and visors for drivers and passengers of motorcycles and mopeds.
The regulation timeline has been outlined by the BSI:
There are now three categories, designed to assess the severity of the risk. Category I is reserved for Simple PPE; Category II is for intermediate risks; and Category III is for Complex PPE or for higher risk PPE.
Simple PPE: to protect users against minimal risk such as:
- Superficial mechanical injury
- Contact with water or weak cleaning materials
- Contact with hot surfaces (under 50°C)
- Damage to the eyes from sunlight exposure
- Non-extreme atmospheric conditions
Intermediate PPE: risks other than those listed in Category I and III such as:
Safety spectacles and goggles
Industrial helmets and bump caps
Complex PPE: risks that may cause serious, irreversible health damage or death such as:
- Risk of dangerous chemical mixtures, hazardous to health
- Risk of oxygen deficiency in certain atmospheres
- Risk of harmful biological agents
- Risk of ionising radiation
- Risk of high-temperature environments (at least 100 °C)
- Risk of low-temperature environments (– 50 °C or less)
- Risk of falling from a height
- Risk of electric shock
- Risk of drowning
- Risk of cuts by chainsaws
- Risk from high-pressure jets
- Risk of bullet wounds or knife stabs
- Risk of harmful noise
Have a look at this helpful PPE Infographic:
- Some equipment will move from Category II to Category III such as hearing protection and life jackets.
- Manufacturers will be required to state their conformity to the new standards.
- A five year certificate of validity will be required for EU type examination certificates.
- Anyone in the supply chain will be responsible for making sure PPE regulations are followed (importers, distributors, anyone in supply or distribution etc).
- Manufacturers have to have their products recertified by 2019 to meet the PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 before they can sell their products.
- For a complete list of the new changes, have a look at the European Commission’s summary of harmonised standards for PPE.