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Update on the revision to the PPE Directive

02 July 2013

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive is a fundamental piece of European legislation relating to occupational safety throughout Europe. The Directive is currently under review and the revised version is likely to come into effect fully by the end of 2016.

You cannot legally market PPE in the European Union unless it carries a CE mark and you obtain a CE mark for your equipment by demonstrating that it complies with the basic Health and Safety Requirements of the PPE Directive. Under the new, revised edition of the Directive, there will be a time limited validity of Certificates which will put a 5 year expiry date on product approvals. All notified bodies will have to re-approve products after their certificate has expired. However, if the product and standard have not changed it will be a simple administrative process to issue a new certificate.

One new proposal required that a Declaration of Conformity be included with each item of PPE. As most manufacturers supply product information in many languages this would add considerable cost without benefit to the customer. The BSIF expressed concern over the potential financial burden this would impose along with our colleagues in the European Safety Federation. The requirement has now been amended to make it sufficient to add a simple statement of conformity to the user instructions with a web address where the full D of C can be viewed.

The revision of the PPE Directive should be ready to be submitted to the EU Council and Parliament in October 2013. Their deliberations are likely to last two years and a transition period will follow, bringing the new Directive into force by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

Health & Safety Legislative Review

In April, the Government announced further plans to reduce the burden of unnecessary health and safety rules and regulations on businesses. This follows the reviews it has commissioned in recent years and the recommendations those reviews made.

A number of actions were put in place including the setting up of an Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), a register of accredited health and safety practitioners within the industry. The register aims to assist businesses to find reliable and trustworthy advice on general health and safety management, as well as making it easier for businesses to find competent and ethical consultants.

In order to simplify health and safety law and guidance and ease the burden on businesses, particularly SME’s, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published ‘Heath and Safety Made Simple’, a new guidance to help small and medium-sized businesses achieve a basic level of health and safety management in the workplace. The guide makes it easier for businesses to understand and be aware of what needs to be put in place. All this information will help businesses get started in managing health and safety in the workplace.

Implementation of some of the reviews’ other recommendations are more worrying, such as exemptions for some self-employed workers and the exclusion of civil liability as a recourse.

Lastly, there has been a focus on enforcement in higher risk areas to deal with serious breaches of health and safety rules. This will mean a substantial drop in the number of health and safety inspections carried out in Britain. The focus on higher risk areas will now see organisations who may gain an unfair competitive advantage by breaking health and safety rules become liable for the Health and Safety Executive’s inspection costs, together with costs of any follow-up work.