There can be very few who by now are not aware that many aspects of their lives will be changing due to the adoption of pan European legislation. What is not clear is how and when the envisaged changes will have real affect Achieving the free movement of goods lies at the heart of the drive to create the single European market All European Community countries have laws on product safety and these differing laws have caused technical barriers to trade In May 1985, European Community Minister agreed on a "New Approach to Technical Harmonization and Standards". The resulting Directives[ that is Community Laws] set out the "essential requirements" which must be met before products may be sold in the member countries.

Directives require member countries to evolve and introduce conforming legislation within the time frames set out In the Directives One such Directive, known as the Personal Protective Equipment Directive[ 89/686/EEC], was formalised on 22 December 1989. The "entry into force" date was set for 1st July 1992

Personal Protective Equipment or PPE was defined as:-

"any device or appliance designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more safety and health hazards in the execution of the users activities".

With such a definition the scope is very wide. It encompasses such items as hard hats, sunglasses, gloves and safety footwear, as examples of items of "simple design" and extends to "complex" respiratory protective equipment [RPE] which includes diver's breathing equipment This Directive was aimed at manufacturers and Importers of PPE for sale Into EC member countries. A further Directive, the Use of Personal Protective Equipment Directive[ 89/656/EEC], was aimed at employers and users.

The objective of this paper is to outline the current UK Regulations which have resulted from the Directives and clarify how these will practically affect the diving industry


Two pieces of legislation have been effective since 1st July 1992, namely:-

  • The Personal Protective Equipment [EC Directive] Regulations 1992 [S. I. 1992/3139]1

  • The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 [S. I. 1992/2966]

In both cases a transitional period was allowed which postponed the effective date until 1 January 1993

In spite of the fact that the original agreement by Ministers was made in 1985, and the Directives issued In 1989, it was quite apparent by 1991 that the deadline would not be met by industry This was, In part, due to the lack of awareness that such Directives existed, but it was also due to a lack of finalised national legislation and the gross underestimation of the magnitude of the task which had now fallen onto standards organizations and test houses. The situation was further complicated by the sweeping statements made in the Directive which had been drafted with idealism rather than pragmatism in mind

To their credit, the DTI have played a very active role In Europe, and have endeavoured to work with the standards and accreditation organizations and keep industry advised of the situation.

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