Your Complete Online Guide to the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 2018
What Does PPE Mean?
PPE refers to the personal protective equipment that protects the user against common workplace health and safety risks. PPE can include items such as safety footwear, eye protection, safety helmets, safety harnesses, respiratory protective equipment (RPE), ear defenders, gloves, and high-visibility clothing. While PPE ranks lowest in the hierarchy of risk control, it’s critically important in preventing and reducing several occupational fatalities and injuries.
PPE Regulations 2018
The 25-year-old European health and safety Directive on PPE changed in 2018. The new regulations reflect the changes in technology and production techniques, as well as the modern ways of bringing PPE to the market. It was approved by the EU on 31 March 2016 and became a law on 21 April. But full enforcement took place in April 2018 when all the member states have adopted the legislation. Since then, all PPE had to be certified to the new Directive; and retailers, importers, and distributors have a duty to provide safe and effective products with manufacturers.
Changes to PPE Regulations
The key pieces of PPE legislation include earlier Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 and the current Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/390). Among the key changes made include:
● 5-year expiry date for new EU Certificates.
● EC Declaration of Conformity to be provided with each product.
● Change of categorisation from product-related to risk-related.
● Increased obligations on economic operators, which includes the total supply chain - manufacturers, importers, and distributors.
● Change of classification for particular product categories.
Key Factors of PPE Regulation
Below is a list of the main factors addressed by the PPE Regulations 2018:
1. Suitable Provision
Once you’ve identified there’s a need for PPE in your workplace, you must ensure to provide suitable and appropriate to the task at hand and the associated risks - proportionate size and weight. You need also to provide CE marked fabrications, as per the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002.
2. Use and Training
As an employer, it’s your duty to provide your employees with correct training on the proper uses of PPE and their responsibility as far as maintenance and risks that the equipment is designed for are concerned.
3. Maintenance and Storage
Proper maintenance and storage of your PPE is essential. For reusable PPE, ensure to clean and store them properly. Perhaps you’ll also need to replace some of the parts (like respirator filters); in this case, ensure to choose the parts that are compatible with the original equipment. You can also consider having someone competent to look after the maintenance and replacement of PPE to ensure and enhance compliance with the PPE regulations.
4. Compatibility and Effectiveness
All PPE items set to be worn together for any given task must be compatible and effective. Wearing a particular item, say a respirator, must not make another item like protective eyewear to be ill-fitting.
5. Employee Responsibility
The following are the main responsibilities of employees as per the PPE Regulations 2018:
● Always report any loss, defects, or damage of PPE as soon as possible for the necessary action to be taken.
● Use PPE in accordance with the training provided.
● Visually examining PPE before use to trace and rectify any potential faults or tears.
● Ensure to return all equipment to proper storage areas after use.