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  3. New European PP directive circulated

In response to the increasing trade in fake personal protective equipment (PPE), the EU is drawing up a new directive. Presently in draft form, it is being circulated for consultation and comment ahead of the final proposals being drawn up.

Last year, one of the leading manufacturers of PPE in the EU alerted the industry to a consignment of hard harts that could be easily broken in two.

Current guidelines dictate that it is the responsibility of the PPE manufacturer to ensure the equipment's performance is of an appropriate standard. This has subsequently created a loophole for unscrupulous importers and retailers, which the new directive will address.

As a result, the new directive is targeting every so called 'economic operator'. In practice, it will mean that everyone involved in the manufacturing, marketing and advertising, and sale of PPE workwear will be responsible for the performance and quality of the kit they are involved with.

It will mean they will need to maintain compliance and ensure accurate records are kept.

Another change to the directive will see PPE product certificates limited to a validity period of five years. It is hoped this will tackle obsolete products which, either through age or legislation, have become unfit for purpose.

There will also be a reclassification of PPE items into three categories. Each category (1,2 and 3) will assess and set the risk level for which the item is suitable. It would see hearing protection given the higher category rating 3, for example.

With few changes to the directive in its present form predicted, the industry expects it to come into force between 2016 and 2017.

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