New European PPE regulation: Greater responsibility for manufacturers

“On 20 April 2016, the new European PPE regulation came into force, but is only legally binding from 21 April 2018. The predecessor of the PPE regulation, the PPE directive from 1989 and the national legislation derived from it, contained numerous detailed requirements for PPE. The new regulation defines several points related to manufacturing, labelling and marketing of PPE in even greater detail. Overall, we view the new PPE regulation as a good chance to
demonstrate our market competency and honour our commitment to quality.”
(Frank Westphal, Head of Legal and Property Rights at bei uvex; in the picture on the left)

Internally and externally, we regularly encounter many questions regarding the new PPE regulation: When is it due? What does it say in detail? How are our products affected? We’ve talked to Dr Claus-Jürgen Lurz (in the picture in the middle), Head of Quality Management/Business Exellence at the uvex safety group, about the new regulation and its effects on uvex.


When does the regulation come into force and when will uvex be ready for it?

Dr Claus-Jürgen Lurz: On 20 April 2016, the new European PPE regulation came into force. It becomes legally binding on 21 April 2018, including, of course, for uvex. The regulation replaces the EU-directive 89/686/EWG  which had been in place for nearly 30 years and was much simpler to implement.

What will change for you in terms of your day-to-day work? What areas will be affected by the new regulation?

Dr Claus-Jürgen Lurz: The regulation will affect all uvex safety products. Less in terms of the product itself than supplying details and further information, including manufacturer details, manufacturing and expiry dates (i.e. how long can the product be used for?). Additional descriptive documents and instructions will be required in all European languages, which must be supplied in pre-defined fonts and font sizes. In order to do this, a change to our product master data will be necessary. Production processes will also be affected by the new regulation. For example, new processes in assembly will need to be put in place, machines must be adapted and potentially also packaging.

Do you view the new regulation as a threat or an opportunity?

Dr Claus-Jürgen Lurz: uvex will be able to further develop its expertise, which is surely a competitive advantage. After all, it is doubtful as to whether smaller firms will actually be able to implement the regulation in their processes. It is also an opportunity for legal frameworks to be harmonised. This will entail greater effort and expenses in terms of measuring and testing, but this all serves to protect people.

What will happen with the “old” products which no longer comply with the new regulation? Is there a risk of a flash sale?

Dr Claus-Jürgen Lurz: Product portfolios must be better managed and products inspected in detail, for example with regard to expiration dates – luckily, however, we do have sufficient experience here. Products which have not sold well in certain colours or sizes will eventually need to be withdrawn from the product range at the right time. Failure to comply with the directive was previously an administrative offence. However, with the new regulation, it is now a criminal offence. Increased duty of care is therefore the utmost priority for all of us!

How are you preparing employees for the new regulation?

Dr Claus-Jürgen Lurz: We have held training sessions for employees working in procurement, product management, sales and other areas, who then in turn pass on their knowledge to other employees.


The uvex group’s principle is and will remain: no compromising on meeting quality requirements!

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