The PPE Directive is in place so you can find the highest possible standard of PPE product, which has been designed, tested and certified according to European law, and bears the CE stamp as verification. But the time has come to amend the Directive. So what will that mean for you?

Today, more than ever, businesses are aware of the importance of PPE for keeping people safe. But, as we know, it’s not just about wearing PPE. It’s about wearing the right PPE – the gear that’s designed for a particular purpose, that fits its wearer properly, that is comfortable and hard-wearing. And, by sourcing quality-approved products, you can be sure you’re doing all you can to protect your people from head to toe.

The existing PPE Directive, which raises the standards of PPE, is now nearly 30 years old, and changes are necessary. In short, the changes - to be enforced in 2018 - will ensure the new laws will be applied to all member countries at the same time. Several types of product will be re-categorised, new documentation will be needed, and all businesses within the supply chain will be responsible for making sure their products comply.

So, how will the changes to the PPE Directive benefit you?

For health and safety managers, procurement managers, or stakeholders invested in buying the right PPE for your employees, the changes to the PPE Directive are a great thing. Here’s why:

  1. PPE has to meet tougher standards than before, so you know your PPE is the highest possible quality.
  2. The laws apply to all European member countries at the same time. It won’t stop imported PPE slipping through the net, as the controls only apply to certification. Buyers will still need to be aware and understand their PPE certifications, as the new directive won't stop you finding poor quality goods.
  3. There are more layers of responsibility across the supply chain to mitigate the risk of poor quality PPE. Legally, your manufacturer, supplier and distributor all have to ensure that all their products are compliant, not just the manufacturer as was the case previously.
  4. Thanks to points 1-3, your choices will become easier and safer. You can buy PPE with greater confidence that it’s tested, approved and meets all necessary specifications.
  5. Your business will have to continue to meet the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992, which are separate to the PPE Directive. You don’t need to do anything differently, other than familiarise yourself with the changes and understand the testing and certification processes so that you can ask your suppliers the right questions.

What do the changes mean for Anchor Safety?

Anchor Safety is ahead of the game. We already have several processes in place to make sure that the PPE we source and supply is of the highest possible quality. However, we will need to do a few more things.

We’ll be taking extra measures to ensure products meet compliance standards, and keep technical specifications and records organised.

Anchor Safety is also an associate of the British Industry Safety Federation (BSIF), which means we have access to important industry stakeholders who can advise us and help us adapt to the changes, as well as training and accreditation facilities.

Why is the Directive changing?

Manufacturers continuously develop innovative new products, so some of those that were cutting edge 30 years ago are now, potentially, a little dated. Today’s new products often deserve a higher rating than those which rated highest in the past.

Protective workwear has adapted in style and form to meet modern requirements. Not only have our working environments changed, but so have many other elements of our working lives – the equipment we use, the tools we handle and even the fashion. (According to Health & Safety at Work, in the 70s, some PPE advertisements showed flared trousers and wide shirt collars – not ideal workwear by today’s standards).

In addition, the marketplace is different. We knew it was important to wear PPE 30 years ago. But today, we know it’s vital – we take fewer chances, and more stringent workplace laws prevent opportunities for people to work without PPE. There’s a lot we could do 30 years ago which just wouldn’t be acceptable today. Statistics from the HSE show that 30 years ago, three times the number of people were fatally injured in the workplace when compared with figures from 2014/15.

These figures show how much of a difference more stringent controls on workplace safety and PPE make, and the reasons the authorities need to continue to update the laws that govern the way we work and the products we use.

There's a lot more to say about the changes to the PPE Regulation. Follow our blog for more information. We'll keep you updated on what Anchor Safety is doing to ensure all of the products that we distribute comply by 2018.