Standardization in the field of personal protective equipment

Grafik: Wortwolke Handschuhe© KAN - Tagxedo

The statutory basis for product standardization of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Europe is directive 89/686/EEC pursuant to Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). In the context of the directive, PPE comprises "any device or appliance designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards". In Germany, this directive is transposed into national law by the 8th Ordinance to the Product Safety Act (ProdSG). In order to supplement directive 89/686/EEC with standards, the EU Commission issued three mandates to CEN, which resulted in the development of 320 standards for the field of PPE.

At national level in Germany, PPE standards are mainly developed in the Personal Protective Equipment Standards Committee (NPS), but also in the Precision Engineering and Optics Standards Committee (NAFuO), the Sports and Recreational Equipment Standards Committee (NASport) and the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.). These committees are also mirroring the relevant standardisation activities at European and international level.

Several projects conducted by KAN

  • established the progress made in the field of standardization;
  • assessed the level of product-based occupational health and safety in standards;
  • revealed a need for revision of standards with regard to product-related occupational health and safety.

A clear distinction is drawn between the manufacture of PPE products and the use of PPE. The latter is governed by EU health and safety directive 89/656/EEC (a directive pursuant to Article 153 of the TFEU). It is transposed in Germany by the Ordinance on the use of PPE.


The European PPE Regulation from 2018 onwards

As of 21 April 2018, the placing and making available of PPE on the European Single Market will be governed by the PPE Regulation. The 89/686/EEC PPE Directive will be withdrawn on this date. Regulation (EU) 2016/425 governing personal protective equipment was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 31 March 2016.

Besides the conversion to a regulation, the scope was clarified, the essential requirements adapted to current good practice, and the entire text brought into line with the New Legal Framework (NLF). Detailed obligations for the economic operators now apply also in the area of PPE. The duration of validity of a newly issued or renewed EU type examination certificate must not exceed five years. The changes resulting from the PPE Regulation have only a minor impact upon the harmonized standards.

The European Commission has published a document containing answers to frequently asked questions concerning the transition from the directive to a regulation.A comprehensive description of the essential changes from the PPE Directive, the transition arrangements, and recommendations concerning preparation for application of the PPE Directive can be found here:

Die neue europäische PSA-Verordnung (EU) 2016/425 (The new European PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425) from: Issue 5/2016, pp. 187-190, Gefahrstoffe – Reinhaltung der Luft (www.gefahrstoffe.de)


Dangerous substances in PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) comprises modern industrial products that are frequently manufactured from or with the use of dozens of different substances. Nevertheless, the use of them must not give rise to hazards. In particular, statutory provisions require that the materials of which the PPE is made, including any of their possible decomposition products, must not adversely affect the health or safety of users.  In view of the myriad substances and materials used during the manufacture of PPE, this undoubtedly presents a considerable challenge for standardisation, manufacturers and test bodies. Read more:

"Hazardous substances in personal protective equipment: how "healthy" must PPE be?", a translation of an article published in Heft 5/2016, Seite 191-193, Gefahrstoffe - Reinhaltung der Luft (www.gefahrstoffe.de)

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