Bob Wells

26 May 2017

CE marking vs the BSI Kitemark - what you need to know

To keep employees safe and reduce health risks, it’s vital that health and safety managers invest in the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). With a growing number of cheaper imports entering the market, organisations need to be aware of what to look for when choosing PPE.

What is CE marking?

CE marking on a product is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product complies with the essential requirements of all the Directives that apply to it. It indicates to the appropriate bodies that the product may be legally offered for sale in their country. The requirements for CE marking differ across all the Directives and may also vary for different products even within a single Directive.

Depending on the product, CE marking may be as simple as formulating a technical file, or as complex as having to submit your products to regular independent scrutiny. Third party testing, systems assessment and technical file assessments may be mandatory, but sometimes the manufacturer’s unverified claim is all that’s asked for.

How does the BSI Kitemark differ?

For those that want to go above and beyond, the BSI Kitemark gives a higher level of assurance that a product will do what it claims. It helps differentiate well-made PPE protection products from those of a lower standard – or indeed counterfeit goods. Buyers look for the BSI Kitemark because it’s a sign of quality, safety, trust and reliability. It is also a quality mark that is used widely. For example, in the equestrian world at competitions like Pony Club meets where they specify that BSI Kitemark approved helmets must be used by competitors taking part in their events.

The BSI Kitemark is voluntary, independent third-party certification. To achieve it, a manufacturer must have a comprehensive quality management system based on ISO 9001, or a recognized factory production control system combined with initial product type-testing and regularly undergo on-going audits. The BSI Kitemark shows that BSI has verified the quality of products and processes on a continuing basis. There is additional verification that the product meets the standard, as it requires regular factory visits, typically twice a year, and an ongoing product audit.

Certification to, and display of, an independent BSI Kitemark provides a much stronger statement of product quality than a CE mark, giving manufacturers the ability to differentiate their products – and providing customers with genuine assurance of product quality and fitness for purpose. There are a number of BSI Kitemark schemes available for PPE standards such as EN 166 eye protection, EN 397 industrial safety helmets, PAS 015 equestrian helmets and EN 149 filtering face masks.

It’s imperative that health and safety professionals buy from a reputable supplier and partner with someone that has the knowledge and expertise to keep them up to date with any changes to standards and regulations that might impact those products that are provided to employees.

Bob Wells, global head of personal safety, BSI