The EU’s new PPE regulation

The four most important changes for employers

Werner Münnich, PSA expert at CWS-boco

The EU regulation concerning personal protective equipment (PPE) will enter into force on 21st April 2018, replacing the current directive from 1989.

CWS-boco’s PPE expert Werner Münnich explains what has changed and what employers need to pay attention to in this new blog article.

For many of our boco customers, functional personal protective equipment (PPE) is a life-saving companion. Until recently, there was an EU directive in effect to ensure that PPE across Europe complied with the same high standards. On 21st April 2018, this directive will be superseded by the EU’s new PPE regulation. As this date draws closer, customers are asking us more and more frequently what impact this new regulation will have for them. To make sure everyone is best informed, I have compiled information on the four most important changes here.

Welder at work

Personal protective information – regulated diversity

People in a wide range of professions are exposed to risks on a daily basis that they can protect themselves against with the right equipment. For example, welders, who need to be protected against heat and sparks. Or roadworkers and paramedics, who need to be seen by drivers in plenty of time: They wear high-visibility clothing

There are legal regulations in place for all kinds of personal protective equipment. They ensure that everyone working in potentially hazardous situations is optimally protected. 

As such, the regulations encompass not only specifications regarding the materials and manufacturing methods employed, but also the upkeep and certification of the personal protective equipment. Employers are required by law to provide PPE. And employees are similarly obliged to use the PPE they are given.

Legal regulations concerning PPE: What happens now

The provisions concerning personal protective equipment apply across the whole of Europe. The directive 89/686/EEC has applied since 1989. It is now being superseded by EU Regulation 2016/425. The new regulation is available to download in many languages here.   

PPE products manufactured in accordance with the old directive can still be sold on the EU market for another year. They can still be supplied (i.e., sold and resold within the EU) without further checks until 21st April 2023 – the last possible date on which their current certification can expire. 

Schweißer bei der Arbeit

New PPE regulation: The four most important changes

1. Validity of the certification and checking

One important new aspect the employer should be aware of is the certification period of the PPE. The new regulation is similar to a car’s MOT: all models must be checked and certified every five years. This certification is known as a “type approval certificate”. In the past, this regular recertification was not necessary in many cases. 

The certification must be performed by the manufacturer. If the PPE is resold or rented, the responsible party must also ensure that the articles are all correctly certified. As such, as an employer in whose company PPE is worn, you do not need to monitor this interval – we do that for you

As we wash the protective equipment for our customers as part of our rental service, we also ensure that it is in full working order after every wash and the expiry date has not passed. This is also stipulated by the new regulation. One advantage of the rental service: You cannot guarantee regular, professional checking of the items as performed in our laundry if you purchase the PPE and wash it privately. Further information on our rental service is available here

2. Declaration of conformity

There is a very simple principle behind this term: A declaration must be provided with each individual item. The declaration confirms that the item corresponds to the approved type, in other words that it conforms to the standard. This closes the gap between the certified type and the individual item of apparel, ensuring that the individual item corresponds to the certificate. As a customer, the declaration of conformity allows you to rest assured that your PPE has also been correctly certified and checked. 

The declaration of conformity can be supplied directly with the PPE or made available on a website. Of course, we also inform our customers accordingly.

Street workers in high-visibility clothing

3. Guaranteed traceability

PPE manufacturers are now obliged to label every model. The inclusion of a type, batch or serial number makes it possible to trace individual items back to the respective manufacturer with ease. The manufacturer must be able to document who the PPE was sold to for a period of ten years. In addition, every economic player who passes the personal protective equipment on to others also needs to document where the PPE came from and who it was provided to. This is particularly important when potentially hazardous faults occur. For companies, this also means: Document precisely who supplied you with PPE and who you provide it to. 

4. Manufacturer’s information supplied

Complete information for the customer. The so-called manufacturer’s information is a kind of instruction manual for personal protective equipment. It must also be provided to the customer when supplying PPE. As a customer, you must thus be provided by law with all the important information about the clothing.

Weatherproof workwear by boco worn by two workers

The new PPE regulation for our customers

  • CWS undertakes to provide personal protective equipment with a valid type approval certificate.
  • Protective equipment manufactured in accordance with the old standards can still be used until 2023. By that time, we will have replaced all the items that customers have received under the old directive.
  • Customers can request information on the EU declaration of conformity directly from us.

Any questions about the new PPE regulation?

If you have any questions concerning the new regulation or are unsure of whether your PPE still corresponds to the applicable standards, please do not hesitate to contact us.  


Blog, boco, Health & Safety