Confusion over the European Commission’s Personal Protective Equipment Directive is leaving engineering companies open to prosecution, the British Safety Industry Federation has warned.
Geoff Hooke, secretary general of the BSIF, said users of chemical-resistant gloves and clothing are being put at risk because of confusion over how these products should be categorised under the directive.
The BSIF is pressing for clarification of the directive which, it is claimed, fails to give sufficient guidance on what is meant by short-term and long-term protection against aggressive chemicals and how products offering different levels of protection should be categorised.
The current confusion leaves manufacturers to make their own judgement on how best to categorise their products – possibly leaving themselves open to civil action if an expert witness can argue against their decision, said the BSIF.
Until the commission offers guidance on these issues, the BSIF believes end users run the risk of being confused over product selection with obvious safety implications.
The confusion has also allowed importers to sell gloves with a chemical protective symbol without specifiying the degree of protection being offered. This has led to chemical resistant knit wrist gloves being sold and used in inappropriate circumstances.