RS Components working with 3M to help prepare businesses for new regulation on personal protective equipment

RS Components(RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers, has announced it is ready to support customers with a range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), specifically hearing-protection products, to help businesses comply with the new regulation on PPE.

PPE is equipment that has been designed and manufactured to be worn or held by a person for protection against one or more risks to that person’s health or safety. Along with other risks such as physical, chemical or mechanical hazards, as well as heat and flames or flying particles, a key area now officially recognised in the new legislation is noise, especially for those working in industrial environments or in the construction industry.

On April 21, 2018, the current PPE Directive (89/686/EEC) –  which has been fully applicable since July 1995 – is replaced by the new PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425. The regulation includes changes that bring it into line with current business practices, especially given the current directive text is now more than 20 years old. It covers a range of requirements such as CE marking, technical documentation and manufacturing audits, and includes three categories of risk from I to III, respectively, covering low, intermediate and high risk.

A key change within the new regulation is that hearing protection has been redefined as ‘harmful noise’ and is now officially recognised as an irreversible health hazard. Accordingly, it has also been moved into the most serious risk category – Category III, which puts it in the same level of high-risk categorisation as respiratory protection and fall protection.

In addition to other requirements for importers and distributors with the new PPE Regulation, manufacturers of hearing protection products will be subject to more stringent on-going quality control procedures, including quality control of products or quality assurance for the entire manufacturing site. Where it is possible, new CE marking needs to be applied on all packaging and products.

An important document for businesses looking for help in this area is EN/BS 458:2016, which was published in March 2016 and covers key factors affecting the selection and use of hearing protection equipment. It also includes information on ergonomics and on the important benefits of individual fit testing to improve the field performance of hearing protectors.

As well as helping awareness of the new regulation, RS is putting in place key hearing protection products from leading manufacturers such as 3M, the science-based technology company. 3M has a wide range of equipment including ear defenders and ear plugs and communication ear defenders, which offer an easy ability for workers to communicate wirelessly with co-workers.

Further information on the new regulation is available here; further information on the 3M range of PPE for hearing protection available from RS is available here:

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