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Document 31989L0686

Personal protective equipment

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'Ensuring safe personal protective equipment for users' for an updated information about the subject.

Personal protective equipment



Directive 89/686/EEC — personal protective equipment


  • It covers personal protective equipment (PPE). It lays down the conditions governing its placing on the market and free movement within the European Union (EU), and the basic requirements which PPE must satisfy in order to protect the health and ensure the safety of users.
  • It requires EU countries to adopt measures to ensure that PPE placed on the market protects the health and ensures the safety of users, without prejudice to the health or safety of other individuals, domestic animals or goods.


Definition and scope

PPE is any device or appliance:

  • designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards (e.g. sunglasses);
  • designed for both professional and private use (such as sport, leisure or household use

The directive does not apply to:

  • PPE already covered by another directive which has the same objectives as this directive with regard to placing on the market, free movement of goods and safety;
  • PPE designed and manufactured for use by the armed forces or for maintaining law and order;
  • PPE for self-defence;
  • PPE intended for the protection or rescue of persons on vessels or aircraft, not worn all the time;
  • Helmets and visors intended for users of 2- or 3-wheeled motor vehicles.

Essential requirements

  • The design and manufacture of PPE is subject to essential health and safety requirements.
  • The essential requirements that must be met by PPE during manufacture and prior to being placed on the market are:
    • general requirements applicable to all PPE;
    • additional requirements specific to certain types of PPE (e.g. PPE subject to ageing where its performance may be affected by age needs a date of manufacture);
    • additional requirements specific to particular risks (e.g. buoyancy aids - in envisaged conditions of use, this PPE must not restrict users’ freedom to move but must allow them in particular, to swim or take action to escape from danger or rescue other persons).

Harmonised standards

Conformity assessment and notified bodies

  • Assessment of the conformity of PPE with the essential requirements and other rules of this directive is the responsibility of:
    • either the bodies notified by the EU countries in accordance with certain minimum assessment criteria;
    • or the manufacturers themselves.

Declaration of conformity and CE mark

EU countries may not prohibit, restrict or hinder the placing on the market or entry into service of PPE that bears the CE mark for which:

  • the manufacturer is able to produce an EC declaration of conformity;
  • for PPE which protects against minor risks, conformity is demonstrated by the manufacturer himself by the EC declaration of conformity;
  • all other PPE should be subject to an EC type-examination* by a notified body;
  • some items of PPE which protect against very serious risks are also subject to a procedure aimed at ensuring conformity with production type, such as respiratory equipment. Such PPE requires an EC type examination certificate as well as
    • either ongoing monitoring of compliance by audits to ensure quality management systems are in place to make a compliant product
    • or the supply of samples each year for compliance testing.

The CE conformity mark is attached by the manufacturer or his representative established in the EU.


Directive 89/686/EEC will be repealed and replaced by Regulation (EU) 2016/425 with effect from 21 April 2018.


EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 31 December 1991. It has applied since 1 July 1992.


This directive is supplemented by directives on the protection of the health and safety of workers, in particular Directive 89/656/EEC on the use of PPE by workers at the workplace.


Type examination: when an approved inspection body establishes and certifies that the PPE model in question satisfies the relevant provisions of this directive.


Council Directive 89/686/EEC of 21 December 1989 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to personal protective equipment (OJ L 399, 30.12.1989, pp. 18–38)

Successive amendments to Directive 89/686/EEC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purpose only.


Regulation (EU) 2016/425 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on personal protective equipment and repealing Council Directive 89/686/EEC (OJ L 81, 31.3.2016, pp. 51–98)

last update 20.09.2016