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April 20, 2016

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Preparing for the PPE changes


With the current PPE directive 89/686/EEC over 20 years old, new legislation is coming into force over the next few years which will bring it up to date and ensure it is relevant for changing technology and equipment which has been introduced in the last few years. Nadine Sherwood, PPE Product Manager of Buck & Hickman outlines the importance of the regulations and how procurement managers can keep up to date with the impending changes to the directive. Nadine will also look at how all organisations can ensure their PPE is certified and in line with the regulations, to avoid accident and injury at work and avoid costly prosecution.

It is the duty of engineering and manufacturing organisations to provide members of staff with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), in order to protect employees from the risk of injury or accident at work. With some employees at risk of life-long injury or disease as a result of inadequate protection, and health and safety prosecutions averaging around £30,000, it’s simply not an subject that should be overlooked.

An increased awareness of workplace safety over the past 20 years and a better understanding of the health implications and long-term conditions associated with the incorrect use of certain tools and machinery, has led to PPE being recognised as a vital commodity across the engineering and manufacturing sector. While there is a directive currently in place, some companies often without knowing- – are still putting their employees at risk of illness or long-term disorders due to the lack of, or incorrect use of PPE. The rapid change in technology, and more advanced equipment has also caused some regulations to become outdated, making some of the guidance no longer applicable or effective.

Even with current provisions in place, employees are still being injured at work. Earlier this year a structural building products manufacturer was prosecuted and fined £12,000 after a worker received chemical burns because they weren’t wearing the appropriate personal protective clothing. Similarly, a building company was fined for safety failings after an employee suffered permanent injury to his eye due to wearing the incorrect protection for his particular role. Situations such as this demonstrate the importance of appropriate protection, particularly when a worker suffers lifelong injuries.



Advancements in tools and machinery, together with a rise in the cost of workplace accidents and more companies fined for the improper use of PPE, has prompted a overhaul of the directive, and in January a draft version of the regulation was approved by the European Commission and Parliament. The legislation is due to come into force in the first quarter of 2016, with a transition period taking place over the next two years, and full enforcement by the end of 2018. The regulation communicates the conditions which govern PPE on the market and sets out the basic safety requirements organisations must follow to ensure the health, safety and ultimately the protection of the user.

Unlike the previous PPE directive which placed emphasis on manufacturers, it is likely the new regulation will require anyone involved in the entire supply chain to ensure the PPE they are using meets the required standards. While the wording has yet to be finalised, it is likely some forms of protection will be reclassified from category 2 (intermediate) to category 3 (complex) including equipment such as hearing protection. In addition, PPE regulation will be reclassified as a legislative act, which means it will be binding across the EU so PPE manufacturers are likely to be required to provide certification that the tools and equipment meet regulations.

Those who oversee health and safety procurement are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the regulation once it’s formalised in the coming months so they can make certain their suppliers are conforming to the standards too. Forming a strong relationship with key suppliers can be useful as they can develop a good knowledge of a business, ensuring the equipment is in line with regulations, as well as recommend appropriate uniform or equipment, and advise about any changes that may need to be made in line with specific individuals and job roles.

There are a number of ways safety managers can ensure they adhere to the new regulation and protect the health and safety of their employees. An initial task is to review whether employees are using the correct equipment, and can do so by assessing the types of hazards each individual is exposed to, in what quantities and levels, and for what length of time. By doing so, managers can determine whether the PPE works to the correct performance levels, and will properly protect the worker. It’s worth bearing in mind, incorrect, ill fitting or incompatible equipment can be as damaging as not having any protection.

Procurement managers should be aware that some PPE currently on the market doesn’t adhere to appropriate safety standards, and just last year a budget retailer was fined over £60,000 for selling high visibility vests which failed to meet industry standards. Selecting a supplier that follows industry regulations will ensure equipment purchased will protect the user correctly. Buck & Hickman for instance is part of the BSIF Registered Safety Supplier (RSS) scheme, which demonstrates its commitment to meeting relevant standards with suppliers all indepently audited to confirm compliance with the scheme’s requirements. Companies displaying the scheme’s logo have all signed a binding declaration that the safety equipment they offer fully complies with the PPE regulations and is appropiately CE marked.

This industry standard is reflected through the exclusive Q-Safe range, a comprehensive range of personal protective equipment (PPE) which provides a head-to-toe solution for manufacturing and engineering industries. Compliant with all relevant European health & safety and quality standards, Q-Safe comprises more than 80 different products, covering head, hand, eye, ear and respiratory protection as well as short-life clothing including coveralls, overshoes and aprons. To ensure compatibility and individualised fit, the Q-Safe range has been sensitively and ergonomically designed to offer a number of size, fit and colour options. Once the directive has been finalised, all the products across the range will follow the changes with all certification updated to ensure organisations comply.


While selecting the appropriate PPE is vital, maintaining safe working habits and properly protecting staff will also help avoid accident and injury. PPE should not be perceived as a one size fits all approach, and it’s up to health & safety managers to regularly check that PPE is worn correctly in order to get the full working life from each item. One way to help monitor this is through the use of industrial vending systems, such as Buck & Hickman’s InvendTM , which provides complete visibility over the use of PPE. Utilising the same technology previously used for consumer goods and applying it to PPE product supply, InvendTM offers a fully vendor-managed service which combines ease of access and 24/7 product availability.

Q-Safe is one brand which has been deemed vend-ready with products available including safety gloves, glasses, noise protection, and respiratory masks, allowing organisations to select the PPE which is appropriate for their specific facility. A key benefit of using InvendTM to supply employees with PPE is its controlled access function, with each user provided with their own personalised access code, ensuring they can only select the equipment and products which are specific to their role and don’t mistakenly wear a lower level of protection. The service not only provides health and safety managers with peace of mind staff are using the correct equipment, but also creates a useful audit trail of issued health & safety items, cutting down on overuse of reusable items and the associated costs.

For further information on Q-Safe, Invend™ or the PPE selection and training services available from Buck & Hickman, please visit

Read the SHP guide to PPE, including a free download and detailing all the latest articles on PPE.


Nadine Sherwood, PPE Manager at Brammer and Buck & Hickman

Working in the personal protective equipment (PPE) sector for over 15 years, Nadine Sherwood brings extensive experience and knowledge to her role of PPE Product Manager at Brammer and Buck & Hickman. Supporting the sales team, Nadine provides health and safety guidance and product advice to customers and key accounts, helping to rationalise their PPE selection and inventory, as well as identifying significant cost savings. Nadine is also responsible for leading the organisations’ supplier strategy – building relationships with leading manufacturers and sourcing the most innovative and effective products for the benefit of their customers.

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Mike Kerins
Mike Kerins
8 years ago

More information on some of the expected changes would be useful.

Roger Clarke
Roger Clarke
8 years ago

The author seems very confused. The new EU PPE Regulation replaces Directive 89/686/EEC, which was implemented in the UK by the Personal Protective Equipment (EC Directive) Regulations 1992, later replaced by the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. They relate to the supply of PPE in the European Economic Area (EEA) and should not be confused with the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, which implemented Directive 89/656/EEC and placed requirements on employers with respect to the provision of PPE in the workplace. With the similarity in the numbering of the two directives and in the titles of the UK… Read more »