Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Compliance

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Compliance

12th May 2016

Here at Safety Fabrications we take pride in providing high quality, robust access equipment that provides workers with the peace of mind necessary when working at height.  Our Ascent™ fall protection posts are structural anchor posts that are designed for use with cable based fall protection systems, rail based fall protection systems and abseil access points. 

There is a wide range of work at height personal protective equipment (PPE) available on today’s market and it’s essential that the correct PPE is chosen so that it is fit for purpose and the correct choice for the task at hand.  As an employer, it is your legal obligation that you choose and provide the correct equipment that will keep you and your workers as safe as is possible at all times.

What’s Classed as PPE?

The Personal Protective Equipment Directive as brought into play back in 1992 and states that all equipment defined as PPE must comply with the Directive and carry a CE Mark as a symbol of quality.  If you need more information on CE Marks, then we have already published a full explanation and a guide that can be used to ensure that you choose equipment that carries the Conformite Europeene rather than the Chines Export symbol.

PPE is designed to be used by a single person – when PPE is used in a rescue scenario and more than one person loads the equipment, it is no longer classed as PPE, therefore careful consideration is essential as to whether or not the equipment is safe to use.

There are three main categories of PPE:

  • Category 1 – of simple design which covers minimal risks, such as gardening gloves.
  • Category 2 - - covers medium risks, such as work at height helmets.
  • Category 3 – complex design which guards against life threatening dangers, such as PPE that protects workers against falls from height.

PPE is required to meet certain standards set by a notified organisation – an approved test body such as the British Standards Institute (BSI).  Their responsibilities include ensuring that the item passes the performance test requirements, that it is correctly markets, that there are suitable instruction that comply with requirements and that the manufacturer has the correct quality systems in place to monitor production of the equipment.

Check for the CE Mark

All PPE is legally required to carry the CE Mark to demonstrate its compliance with European legislation, regardless of where it is manufactured.  If the PPE does not carry the CE Mark, it is either non-compliant or it is at least twenty years old (in which case it may not comply with current legislation anyway).  When planning work at height, it’s vital that you understand that the CE Mark itself does not constitute any kind of approval or level of quality.  PPE should be regularly inspected as it can go out of date and become non-compliant.


PPE has a shelf life and if it has not been inspected for some time it may have expired.  Details on the equipment’s expiry date should be in the instruction manual – if not, contact the manufacturer to check.  If PPE has expired it could put workers at risk.