The New Personal Protective Equipment Regulation Explained
The new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulation (EU) 2016/425 began its transitional period in 2016 and is now set to be fully enforced. These are the most significant changes to the PPE regulations since the introduction of the first Directive more than 20 years ago and they’re designed to improve ownership of those in the supply chain by clearly defining the legal obligation. This will strengthen the product type approval process, improve market surveillance and increase the requirements on certain PPE categories such as hearing protection, due to the potential for life changing injuries.
The requirements mean that all those responsible for the purchase of PPE must ensure that their suppliers meet the new regulatory requirements, though the old regulation will be valid until 24th April, 2019. However, products with an EC type examination certificate will remain valid until 21st April 2023 unless the standard has change, the certificate expires before that date or changes are made to the product’s safety features.
These changes will affect safety managers as everybody involved in the manufacture, supply and distribution of PPE will now be referred to as “Economic Operators” and will be legally responsible o ensure products comply with standards. This will include online retailers, retailers and general distributors who will all need to assess the compliance of a product before making it available. This is a clearly defined obligation that cannot be passed back into the supply chain.
Safety managers will still be able to procure PPE in accordance with the old Directive until 21st April, 2023 using a current EC type examination certificate. However the product must be compliant with the requirements of the regulation and an EU declaration of conformity must be available either with the product or at an identified website. If the certificate expires before 21st April, 2023, then the product must be removed from the market or recertified to the new Regulation.
There are three exceptions to this position that will require newly imported products after April 21st 2019 to be recertified to the new PPE regulation that those responsible for the purchase of PPE should be aware of:
Products where there has been a change in design or manufacture since their last EC type examination – ask the supplier for new certification.
Products where there has been a change in the state of the art or standards – check to see if you’re buying PPE to the most current standard.
Products that have changed category under the new Regulation – check that the PPE which is now classified as CAT III is now recertified to the Regulations, for example hearing protection.
Under the new Regulation, and EU Declaration of Conformity must accompany each item, or a web link to the digital version must be clearly displayed on the product or user instructions. If the item you’re purchasing does not include this, then you should ask the supplier about this. If you have any doubts at all, liaise with your supplier to determine their process for ongoing sample testing and quality assurance as it is their responsibility to ensure that the products they supply are compliant.