Personal Protective Equipment Directive

Personal Protective Equipment Directive

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Directive 89/686/EEC requires employers to provide their employees with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Protective gloves that are classified as PPE must be CE marked.

To assist in the selection of PPE, the Personal Protective Equipment Directive (89/686/EEC) is written such that safety equipment is categorised. This categorisation enables Safety Personnel to select the appropriate PPE to match the hazards and risks identified during Health and Safety Audits. In addition, the properties and test methods for protective gloves are described by a range of European Standards, and gloves must comply with relevant standards.

The PPE risk categories are described as simple, intermediate and complex design. Simple design gloves may be used in situations where the end-user can identify the hazards and level of protection required; where the effects of the hazard are gradual and can be identified in good time. Examples of simple design gloves include: gardening gloves, protection against cleaning materials of weak action, protection against heat (not above 50°C), and protection against minor impacts and vibrations.

Complex design gloves protect against dangers that may seriously or irreversibly damage health, the effects of which the end-user cannot identify in sufficient time. Such gloves include: protection against chemical attack or ionising radiation, protection against heat where the air temperature is above 100°C, protection against cold where the air temperature is below -50°C, and protection against electrical risks (for example, high voltage).

Intermediate design gloves are those products which do not fall into either the simple design or complex design categories. Whatever the category, gloves must comply with the essential health and safety requirements of the PPE directive. European Standards have been developed to enable the assessment of protective gloves.

All gloves must comply with EN420 General Requirements for gloves. Other standards relate to specific types of hazards. The standards provide a system for evaluating the performance of the glove according to stated levels. Pictograms are defined to provide a means of identifying the hazard against which the glove provides protection.