It is over 20 years since the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive (89/686/EEC) was first adopted by the European Council and changes to the regulation are due to come into force by the end of 2018.
The PPE legislation relates to occupational safety throughout Europe and is applicable to any device or appliance designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards for use in professional, domestic, leisure or sports activities.
The European Council adopted the PPE Directive on 21st December 1989. It was implemented into UK law as the Personal Protective Equipment (EC Directive) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/3139) and known as the ‘Principal Regulations’ , coming into effect on 1st January 1993.
The advancements in new technology and processes means that PPE rules are in need of updating and will brought in line with other directives that have been revised in recent years.
A draft version of the new regulation has been debated and approved by the European Commission and Parliament. A final agreement on the text by the European Council is now close and will become official once it appears in the Official Journal of the European Union. The regulation will them come into 20 days after being published.
A two-year period of transition will then follow before full enforcement comes into effect around the end of 2018. Manufacturers with existing PPE certificates will need to be aware that they will expire once the Regulation comes into force.
The changes that are being proposed include moving hearing protection from Category 2 to Category 3 PPE; changing life jackets from Category 2 to Category 3 PPE; a Declaration of Conformity to be issued with each PPE or at least a link to where it can be obtained; the potential to cover domestic PPE; and creating a five-year certificate validity similar to other EU requirements.
Companies would be well advised to keep up-to-date and be fully aware of the changes so they can successfully prepare for the impact on their business.
Products that are currently certified to older expired standards will be required to be fully tested to the latest versions. Existing product ranges should be checked to ensure they meet the latest product specifications and businesses should be aware if any of their products fall into the shifting PPE categories.
The new regulations will see a shift from focussing on the manufacturers to encompassing the whole supply chain, meaning all companies that operate in the PPE industry, including supply and distribution, will be legally required to comply.