The Directive: PPE 89/686/EEC

PPE Directive 89/686/EEC (Personal Protective Equipment Directive) was published on June 1995 and covers Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It is defined as “any device to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards”.

89/686/EEC concerning Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has 17 Articles and 6 Annexes. Originally published in 1989, the PPE directive only has three modifications 93/95/EEC, 93/68/EEC, and 96/58/EEC.

The introduction establishes the focus of the directive as “safeguarding of public health, improving safety at work and ensuring user protection” and reinforces the European Commissions continuing efforts to create free movement of goods in the European Economic Area through the use
of harmonized standards.

The directive divides PPE into 3 categories; class 1 – simple, class 3 – complex and class 2 – neither of these. For classes 1 and 3 there are comprehensive lists of equipments covered; any equipment not included on either list are classed in the second category. There is also a comprehensive list of equipment excluded from the directive. There are general requirements for all 3 classes, including technical documentation, a CE mark and a Declaration of Conformity. For classes 2 and 3 there are additional requirements.

Current Problems

Awareness and communication continue to be major problems across the EU for the smooth implementation of the directive. Some of the problems identified are:

  • Scope: unclear about applicability to consumer PPE for domestic use; also demarcation between PPE and other directives, e.g. Medical Devices and Toys require clarification.
  • Standards: still not available for all PPE
  • Product Categorization/Conformity
  • Assessment Procedures: require clarification to allow an increased scope for self-certification in order to ease demands on third-party testing and reduce compliance costs
  • Notified Bodies: greater transparency and uniformity is required across member states in the assessment of applicants for Notified Body status in order to increase confidence in their appointment and activities
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