The new PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 was adopted on 12 February 2016 and published shortly thereafter in the Official Journal. A two year transitional period will now take place to allow member states to prepare for the change in law with UK regulations likely to come into force in April 2018.

The former PPE Directive has been in place for over 20 years. The new legislation has been designed to guarantee consumer safety, ensure a level playing field throughout the PPE industry and to reflect the developments in technology which have taken place over the last two decades.

One of the main changes that will be brought in by the new regulation is the increased focus on the whole supply chain. The current regulations cover manufacturers only. However, in future, importers, distributers and retailers will also be required to ensure that PPE handled by them are fully complient.

Further, hearing protection will be reclassified from category 2 to category 3. Life jackets will also be subject to the same recategorisation which will ensure that these products are more stringently examined and monitored.

EC Type examination certificates will now only be valid for a maximum of 5 years. This change will ensure that products are the subject of regular reviews and testing with the aim of discouraging certain manufacturers from introducing counterfeit products to the market.

The introduction of the new legislation also means that all products currently certified to the old standards will need to be tested to the latest current standard.

Distributors will be required to ensure that PPE is accompanied by instructions in a language which can be understood by the end user in the country in which the product is to be made available.

The changes within the new legislation have been introduced with a view to ultimately enhance the protection and the health and safety of PPE users and discourage manufacturers and importers who place non compliant products on the market.

Furthermore, the new requirement to ensure compliance throught the entire supply chain will result in equipment passing through 3 stages of testing which will ultimately result in a higher standard of PPE throughout the industry.

It is important to remember that PPE Regulation is mandatory and that it is a legal requirement to comply. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.

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Erin Shoesmith

Erin Shoesmith

Partner, Health & Safety
United Kingdom

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