Personal Protective Equipment: The Lowdown

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is something that most business owners will know about. Last year, the PPE Directive 89/686/EEC was replaced by the Regulation 2016/425 in a bid to improve health and safety at work.

As a result, most businesses will be researching how this will impact their operations. Opposed to the former directive, the new regulation is a binding legislative act that must be applied in its entirety across the EU without requiring separate national legislation.

Our tech is advancing at a rapid rate, and as a result there are options for more efficient equipment and workwear. Because of this, changes were required and expected to occur around PPE after it first came into action over two decades ago.

The new regulation that was put into action on 21st April 2018 will involve the entire supply chain opposed to just products released to the market by manufacturers. As a result, anyone who is part of the supply or distribution chain must abide by PPE and meet the standard requirements that have been set out — while also having an understanding that only products that meet the standards will be made available on the market.

Below are the main standards:

  • Making sure PPE complies with the essential health and safety requirements.
  • Making sure technical documentation has be drawn up.
  • When compliance has been demonstrated the EU declaration of conformity has been drawn up and a CE mark affixed.
  • Retention of documents for ten years.
  • Sample testing.
  • Duty to take action in relation to non-conforming PPE.
  • Labelling requirements.
  • Providing instructions and cooperating with the national authority.

The Directive and Regulation will both apply until the 21st April 2019, as this marks the end of the transition period. However, any EC type-examination certificates and approvals issued under the Directive will remain valid until the 21st April 2023 unless they have an earlier expiry date.

Personal Protective Equipment Categories:

Below, corporate uniform providers, Dimensions has listed more about the PPE categories:

Category I (simple design) – where workers assess the level of protection needed against minimal risks. This could include the use of garden gloves, footwear or ski goggles for example.

Category II (neither simple or complex) – clothing within this category do not fall in either Category I or Category III and can include the likes of dry and wet suits.

Category III (complex design) – any item that falls under this section is complex in design and is intended to protect workers against mortal dangers and any irreversible harm that could impact a person’s health. To give you an idea, this could potentially include harnesses and respiratory equipment.


Employers have to look after their staff but can only do so much. What do staff members actually think of workwear? Figures have suggested that 98% of employees have seen colleagues not wearing PPE when they were supposed to, with a further 30% saying this happens on a regular basis. Excuses varied as to why employees were not wearing the appropriate workwear with some suggesting that it looked unattractive, made them too hot, was a poor fit and was not very practical which should most definitely not be the case for such corporate workwear.

A focus on PPE is essential. Did you know that 9% of all injuries are head injuries because 84% of such occurrences have not been wearing the proper headwear?  Or that 50% of construction workers experience a serious injury during their career? If workers wore proper safety eyewear, their work accidents could be reduced by up to 90%.

But what do the injuries look like for staff members? Research has suggested that 25% of all workplace injuries involve a person’s fingers and hands which could be reduced by 60% if safety gloves are worn. 25% of employees are exposed to noise that are higher than the recommended level too, but such damage can be reduced 99% by wearing the right type of hearing protection.

To remove the likeliness of encountering a physical threat, PPE must become a core focus of all operations. However, businesses must also take away from this article that workers feel uncomfortable in the PPE workwear that has been distributed to them – you must strike a balance between safety requirements and comfort to ensure that staff wear such equipment when needed.


News Reporter