Classification of PPE

Category I – Simple PPE

The PPE, classified as category I, intends to protect users against minimal risks and does not provide protection against severe hazards, such as ionising radiation or harmful biological elements. Due to that, the conformity assessment procedure does not include Notified body testing and evaluation. On the contrary, manufacturers can self-declare compliance with the respective legislation.

As examples of minimal risks can be mentioned the following ones:

  • Superficial mechanical injury
  • Interaction with hot surfaces which temperature does not exceed 50°C
  • Damage caused to the visual organs as a result of abnormal sunlight exposure
  • Atmospheric circumstances that are not of an extreme nature.

Category II – Intermediate PPE

This category includes medium-risk PPE, such as safety spectacles and goggles, high-visibility clothing, bump caps and industrial helmets. The conformity procedure required for intermediate PPE involves Notified body assessment which usually complicates and prolongs the certification process of PPE.

Category III – Complex PPE

PPE of complex design intended to protect the user against any risks with very severe consequences. Such risks may cause serious and irreversible harm to the user’s health and the immediate effects of which the user, presumably, cannot identify in sufficient time. High-level risks are, for example:

  • Hazardous substances and mixtures
  • Environments, where can be observed oxygen deficiency
  • Harmful biological elements
  • High-pressure jets
  • Drowning
  • Ionising radiation
  • Electric shock
  • High-temperature environments (+100 °C)
  • Low-temperature environments (– 50 °C or less)
  • Harmful noise
  • Falling from a height.

The compliance process of complex PPE includes Notified body assessment (EC-type examination) and either on-going surveillance through testing or on-going inspection through factory auditing.

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