Preparing for the new PPE regime
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Construction companies need to ensure their equipment remains compliant under the new EU PPE Regulation coming into force this April. Warren Lynes explains.
The new PPE Regulation which comes into force next month has significant implications for construction companies. PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 takes effect on 21 April, following a two-year transition period. Replacing the 1992 PPE Directive, the regulation is designed to ensure fair competition across the EU and to bring personal protective equipment in line with current legislation.
Products certified to the 1992 Directive can still be sold up until 21 April 2019, but manufacturers must certify products to the new regulation after that date, to ensure they can still be sold. The regulation will apply to the entire supply chain, with manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers having the same obligations.
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One key change is that hearing protection will move from PPE Category II to Category III, to become Complex PPE. As well as being examined by a notified body, such as BSI Group, which will issue an EC Type-examination certificate for each product, Category III products must be manufactured under a quality management system, to ensure production performance. This system must be assessed yearly by a notified body.
According to the latest figures from the HSE, based on figures from the Labour Force Survey between 2014/15 and 2016/17, an estimated 20,000 workers suffer from work-related hearing problems caused, or made worse by, their working environment.
The new PPE Regulation will not change employers’ obligations to measure noise levels, provide medical check-ups for workers, or supply them with hearing protection. However, construction firms will now need to check their suppliers’ product certification and ask for details on manufacturing processes and quality assurance systems.
Reputable manufacturers, suppliers and distributors should be happy to share this information and support clients, with PPE audits for example, to reassure them that their PPE meets the latest standards.
It has always been important that PPE is tested to current standards. In coming years, it will be equally important to ensure this equipment continues to be compliant and that supply chains are ready for the changes brought about by the new PPE Regulation.
Warren Lynes is managing director of OnSite Support