The statutory basis for product standardization of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Europe is Regulation (EU) 2016/425 pursuant to Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). In the context of the regulation, PPE means "equipment designed and manufactured to be worn or held by a person for protection against one or more risks to that person's health or safety". The EU Commission has issued mandates to the European standardization bodies CEN and CENELEC for the development of 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.
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 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 introduced by the PPE Regulation applicable since 2018 compared to the former PPE Directive can be found here (in German):
Das neue Gesetz für Persönliche Schutzausrüstungen – Alles Wichtige für Betriebspraktiker" (pdf) (The new law on personal protective equipment – What company practitioners need to know. from: Sicherheitsingenieur 01/2018, pp. 26-30, author: Dr. Martin Liedtke)
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?" (pdf), a translation of an article (pdf) published in Heft 5/2016, Seite 191-193, Gefahrstoffe - Reinhaltung der Luft (www.gefahrstoffe.de)