What new PPE standard means for firefighters: it is over ten years since this crucial standard was introduced and its revision has been keenly awaited by everyone involved in the design, manufacture, supply and use of PPE it covers. New standards typically take years to develop and gain international agreement and acceptance so the recent announcement is of major importance.(Personal Protection)

THE NEW STANDARD HAS resulted from several years hard work by the Working Group TC162/WG2 who have been responsible for drafting it under EU CEN rules for the revision of standards. The Working Group comprises representatives of interested parties including notified bodies, manufacturers and end users. Bristol Uniforms has been a manufacturing representative on the group since the early 1990s.

The European Standard was required to be given the status of a national standard by all members of the European Union and European Free Trade Association by March 2006 under the revision rules. The effect of this is to create a number of individual national standards with their own nomenclature. The UK Standard is BS EN 469:2005 and will appear in France and Germany as NF EN 469:2006 (Norm Francaise) and DIN EN 469:2006 (Deutsche Institut fur Normung) respectively. It is universally adopted as the standard which sets minimum performance requirements for protective clothing for firefighters whilst fighting fires.

Phasing In The New Requirements

Clearly industry and users need time to manage the changeover from the previous standard to the requirements of the new one and this is recognised in their application. The new CEN standard is not retrospective and there is no fixed transition period laid down although national notified bodies (in the UK this is the British Standards Institute) will have differing policies with regard to the continued validity of existing clothing certification.

As far as garments in service or held in stock are concerned there will be no requirement to withdraw or replace any such items. In the case of new garments, end users will remain able to purchase clothing against the 1995 standard subject to employers carrying out suitable risk assessments.

This will entail making reference to specific UK legislation 'Personal protective equipment at work (second edition)--Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) Regulation 6--Assessment of personal protective equipment'. End users should seek advice from their suppliers to determine the validity of the relevant EC Type Approval Certificates. …

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