The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive/Regulation covers everything from sunglasses and safety goggles to dishwashing gloves and footwear. In this guide, we list products covered by the PPE directive and some exemptions.
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What is the PPE Directive?
The PPE Directive/Regulation applies to all products that a person can wear or use to protect against potential hazards, both at home and in the workplace. Note that all products covered by the PPE directive must also be CE marked.
It’s also important to mention that products used in a workplace may sometimes be classified as PPE, while similar products used for the home are not. That said, some products (e.g. Sunglasses) are always classified as PPE regardless of the specific usage.
All sunglasses products including those intended to be used at home or in leisure activities are covered under the scope of the PPE Directive. As such, sunglasses must comply with the essential health and safety requirements of the directive.
Most of the sunglasses are classified as category I under the PPE Directive unless they are intended to be used in extreme environments such as laboratories or construction sites.
- EN 12311 – Test methods for sunglasses and related eyewear
- EN 12312 – Sunglasses and related eyewear Sunglasses for general use
- Sport sunglasses
- Movie glasses
- Prescription sunglasses
- UV protection sunglasses
- Fashion sunglasses
Safety goggles are designed and used for protection against one or more risks to users’ health or safety, therefore, they must comply with the PPE Directive. For instance, laser safety goggles used for laser wavelength and power protection.
Safety goggles are usually classified into categories II and III depends on its application to different hazards, such as chemical splashes, laser radiation, and flying debris.
- EN 1938 – Goggles for motorcycle and moped users
- Laboratory goggles
- Welding goggles
- Blowtorch goggles
- Motorcycle goggles
- Scuba diving goggles
Protective Masks and Respirators
Protective masks and respirators are commonly used to protect users from hazardous such as smoke and dust inhalation in the workplace, hence, must also comply with the PPE Directive.
Due to the wide range of applications, protective masks and respirators can be classified in classes II or III. Therefore, you shall first determine the category of your PPE, then comply with requirements for the manufacturer’s production, quality system, and involvement of the notified body. However, note that respirators usually belong to class III.
- EN 143 – Respiratory protective devices — Particle filters — Requirements, testing, marking
- EN 149 – Respiratory protective devices — Filtering half masks to protect against particles
- FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 masks and respirators
- N95 and N99 masks and respirators
- Dust masks
- Smoke masks
- Supplied-air respirators
Safety Ear Muffs and Ear Plugs
The EU PPE Directive also covers hearing protection since workplace noise is also a significant health risk to humans. Hence, safety ear muffs and earplugs placed in the EU market shall comply with the PPE Directive.
However, earplugs that are not designed to protect against hazards, such as earplugs for sleeping, flying, or swimming are not considered as personal protective equipment. Therefore, for these specific products is not necessary to comply with PPE Directive.
- EN 352 – General requirements for ear-plugs
- Foam earplugs
- Custom-molded earplugs
- Thermal earmuffs
- Acoustic earmuffs
Protective helmets including industrial helmets and bicycle helmets are usually classified under category II in the PPE Directive. With that said, helmets that are used to protect against hazards must comply with the PPE Directive.
There are some EN standards of helmets to help ensure the safety requirement under the PPE Directive, such as EN 13087 and EN 16471.
- EN 13087 – Test methods for the resistance of protective helmets
- EN 16471 – Firefighter helmets for wildland fire fighting
- Bicycle helmets
- Climbing helmets
- Construction hard hats
The PPE Directive covers gloves that are designed to protect from hazards such as cuts, chemical burns, and abrasion. For instance, chemical protective gloves and mechanical gloves must comply with requirements under the PPE Directive. However, gloves thought to be used at home to protect against non-extreme conditions, for instance, gloves to washing the dishes, are not covered by the directive.
In addition, EN standards such as EN 16350 and EN 12477 can help ensure the safety requirement of different applications under the PPE Directive.
- EN 16350 – Electrostatic properties of protective gloves
- EN 12477 – Protective gloves for welders
- Kevlar gloves
- Butyl rubber gloves
- Aluminized gloves
- Puncture-resistant gloves
- Vibration-resistant gloves
Protective Vests and Gowns
The PPE Directive also covers personal protective garments (e.g. medical protective gowns) that are intended to protect against hazardous such as transmittable infection in the blood.
Further, the PPE Directive also covers safety vests used for higher visibility, and it shall comply with the PPE Directive before placing it in the EU market. For high visibility clothing, there are some EN standards that specify the clothing requirements, such as EN 13998 and EN 13795.
- EN 13998 – Protective clothing against cuts and stabs by hand knives
- EN 13795 – Surgical clothing requirements and test methods
- High visibility safety vests
- Skeleton safety vests
- Medical gowns
- Hospital isolation gowns
Protective footwear is subject to the PPE Directive. As such, safety footwear such as electrical hazard footwear and steel insole footwear shall comply with the requirements stated under the PPE Directive.
Most PPE footwear products are under category II, and they are required to determine the level of risks against and choose a notified body for verification. Further, if the protective footwear products are used for lethal or irreversible risks, then they fall under category III, and you shall additionally define an annual control system for safety reasons.
- EN 13634 – Protective footwear for motorcycle riders
- EN 20347 – Occupational footwear
- Safety-toed footwear
- Steel insole footwear
- Metal instep footwear
- Electrical hazard footwear
Products Exempted from the PPE Directive
Not every personal protective equipment product is covered under the PPE Directive. Here we list some exemption of the PPE Directive as below:
1. PPE designed to be used for self-defense, such as personal deterrent weapons
3. PPE designed for private use to protect against atmospheric conditions
4. PPE helmets and visors designed for users of two-wheeled or three-wheeled motor vehicles