As the European PPE Directive is a general piece of legislation, it includes health and safety requirements which need to be taken into account for all types of PPE, but does not describe or detail how particular types of product need to be tested. To support the Directive, the European Union Commission has mandated the development of various product safety standards via the European Standards agency CEN (Comité Européen de Normalisation).
European standards describe in detail how a particular type of product should be tested and what performance is required to achieve a satisfactory pass. The tests developed for the various standards are designed to assess the products against the requirements of the PPE Directive for the risks of the particular activity for which the product is intended to be used.
The European Commission reviews these standards and if they are suitable they become officially ‘harmonised’ throughout Europe, and have a ‘presumption of conformity’ for the parts of the directive detailed in Annex ZA of each standard. The publication of the standard is also mentioned in the official journal of the EU. Hence, when starting the CE marking process it is necessary to review Annex ZA of any harmonised standard to be used to ensure that all relevant clauses of the Directive will be addressed.