The European Parliament has approved new safety rules to prevent fake and dangerous personal protective equipment, such as helmets or lifejackets, entering the EU.

The updated regulations, which are expected to become fully applicable in 2018, will apply to personal protective equipment (PPE), including protective sporting goods, such as sport helmets, swimming goggles, shin-guards and life jackets.

The new rules aim to ensure products are safe for users, while providing a clear legal framework for companies that meets their needs and allows them to be competitive, a statement said.

"The technical changes…will help simplify and modernise 25 years of legislation," explained Vicky Ford, rapporteur on personal protective equipment.

"Our European rules not only cover the responsibility of the manufacturers, but of importers and distributors too. They make it easier for our market surveillance authorities to track products that are found to be dangerous and to remove them from the market.

"Having a common standard in Europe can often help our manufacturers to secure sales in other parts of the globe, thus boosting our own trade," she added.

The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) has welcomed the moves, pointing out that the PPE regulation "is of key importance to the sporting goods industry to ensure that safe protective equipment can be marketed in all EU member states.

"It defines legal obligations to ensure that PPE on the European market provides the highest appropriate level of protection against hazards. The CE marking affixed to PPE provides evidence of this protection level and its verification."

Among the changes approved by MEPs are steps to limit the costs of bringing safety enhancing products to the market. These include:

  • Not making it mandatory to provide additional papers with each PPE (such as a Declaration of Conformity, which is a legal statement by the manufacturer attesting that the product concerned complies with all relevant provisions of the PPE Regulation).
  • A simplified low cost procedure to renew EU-type examination certificates, instead of a full assessment every five years. This can easily save up to EUR5000 per product range and avoids unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, according to FESI.
  • Explicit clarification that the Regulation applies strictly to protective clothing and not to regular clothing that contains reflective and fluorescent elements and products to protect the wearer against atmospheric conditions, that are not of an extreme nature or to protect against damp and water, such as seasonal clothing.

"In the coming years, the EU will draft up the implementing guidelines for the regulation, which will be applied by all national authorities" FESI secretary general Alberto Bichi stated.