With European PPE regulations about to be revised, Paul George of Landmark Trading explains what the key changes will be, why they’re happening, and how they will help those working in the arboriculture industry.
By Paul George
In any industry, there’s always the potential for accident and misuse of vital equipment. Although when you work with any sort of heavy machinery, like chainsaws and chippers, or work at heights, the stakes are easily raised.
We’ve all heard the unfortunate stories that make the headlines, and it’s no doubt that a few of us have stories of our own near misses. Whether that’s due to faulty equipment, unsafe practices or getting a bit too comfortable when using dangerous machinery.
The one saving grace we have in our industry is our PPE. PPE, or personal protective equipment, is a vital barrier that protects us from potentially fatal incidents everyday. PPE is so ubiquitous to our industry that to leave home without it would be almost like not leaving naked.
2018 marks the first time changes are being applied to the regulations that control the manufacture and sale of PPE since the establishment of the PPE Directive in 1989. We take a look at how these changes will affect you over the coming year.
The PPE Directive
The universal health and safety standards the PPE manufacturing and retail industry has in place today are all due to the the formation of the European Union. To facilitate a single European market for goods, the European Union set up the ‘New Approach.’ In order to remove barriers to trade, minimum requirements for health and safety had to be standardised and consistently enforced throughout the EU and the other trade partners of the European Economic Area (EEA). The PPE Directive mandated a homogenisation of standards for PPE across Europe, leading to the strengthened framework of safety regulation throughout the single market.
In April 2016, the new PPE Regulation was introduced, with the proviso a two year transition period which ends on 21st April 2018. After which, the mandates of the regulation will be fully applied and enforced.
The PPE Regulation aims to improve the rules in place over PPE, as well as updating them to fit the technological advances of the market of today, and the future. The Regulation replaces the Directive as a legislative act that must be applied in its entirety across the EU, although it does not have to be transposed into each member state’s national law. For us in the UK, that means the 2002 PPE regulations have not been repealed, and The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992, which govern the employer on the suitability, provision, maintenance, instruction and use of PPE still stand. So, what constitutes our PPE and when we have to wear it, remains the same.
However, now, the 2016 PPE Regulation is the legislation that employers, manufacturers and suppliers must adhere to.
Although, at large, the changes to the PPE Directive won’t impact what how you use PPE day to day, the larger industry implications will have a lasting trickle down effect.
The Key Changes of the PPE Regulation
- Moving hearing protection from Category II to Category III PPE
- Issuing a Declaration of Conformity with each PPE or at least a link to where it can be obtained
- A compulsory five-year limit on CE validity
- Responsibilities outlined for importers and distributors
- PPE relating to protection from hand-held chainsaws have been added to Category III
Why Change the PPE Directive?
The Directive, although sufficient for the last two decades, did have its limitations. These were largely concerning the weaknesses in the procedure for EC type approval and the effectiveness of market surveillance – each leading to an influx of inferior products on the market. And let’s face it, when it comes to protective equipment, the last word you want to hear is subpar.
There was evidence of procedural weaknesses in the marking processes, allowing less reputable manufacturers to sell substandard products with legitimate certificates and apparent quality assurance. And the new technologies and processes for developing PPE for the market had far outshone the original methods used to formulate the Directive.
What are the Effects of the PPE Regulation?
The primary effect of these changes is that your equipment will be held to a higher standard, and you will be safer in your job.
By reclassifying products like hand held chainsaws Complex PPE, or Category 3, their manufacture will be subject to more stringent oversight. Including increased regulation over PPE that already exists within that category like harnesses.
The Regulation demands increased accountability from the entire supply chain, which should eliminate inferior products and suppliers, cleaning up the industry. The new five year limit on CE certificates is an important step towards addressing this. As well as the Regulation’s clarification that it is the importer or distributor who assumes liability for the manufacturers obligations when selling in Europe.
Essentially, the only changes that you should notice due to the PPE Regulation is an increase in transparency from those you buy your equipment from and less inferior products on the market. The PPE Regulation advances the position of the consumer and user to the front and centre.
If you’re buying new PPE this year, there’s no reason you should make any significant changes to what you buy, although you may notice some inferior products disappearing from the shelves.
The Essential PPE in 2018
If you’re in the market for new PPE, but don’t know where to start, here are our recommendations to fully upgrade your PPE in the new year.
- The B173 Treemme Canyon Chainsaw Boot; comfortable, lightweight and well built
- B112 Solidur Expedition Chainsaw Trouser; new, with lightweight with durable reinforcements to knees and right thigh
- B124 Arbortec Breatheflex Chainsaw Trouser; GO/RT compliant, flexible and durable with strong stitching
- B198 Tuffmaster Forestry Ground Helmet; comes with ratchet wheel size adjustment, lightweight chipper muffs and large visor for good protection
- B205 Petzl Vertex Vent Climbing Helmet; comes with adjustable ventilation slots, and is available in 6 colour including neon yellow for excellent visibility
About the author
Paul George is the managing director of Landmark Trading Ltd, and has worked in the arboricultural industry for 14 years. Landmark Trading are one the the UK’s leading suppliers of arborist equipment. You can connect with Paul on Twitter, Facebook or call Landmark Trading on 01780 482231.