Personal Protective Equipment by EN Spec

We are a leading supplier of PPE, Personal Protection Equipment in the United Kingdom, dedicated to improving workplace safety and helping our customers better understand the technical aspect of EN specification.

Legislation regarding work safety is set out in law, the (ISO) International Organisation for Standardisation attempts to standardise safety equipment into an International code understood by many nations with the objective that all nations wil adopt this code to give workplace safety an International language. There are currently over 160 countries which adhere to EN specification including all EU member states and 12 partner organisations worldwide; other nations are currently gearing up to meet the standards.

We understand the importance of having the correct personal protective equipment to accompany your protective work clothing. That's why we offer an extensive range of industrial strength, high quality personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in many environments. To put it simply; our range of safety harnesses and fall arrest systems will help protect you from falls, our range of safety helmets to protect your head, our eye protection products will defend you from eye injury and our protective gloves will keep your pinkies safe.

All of our safety products and PPE, be it head protection or ear protection, adhere to EU health and safety legislation. We constantly monitor changes to the health and safety regulations and are always extending our range to ensure our customers can work confidently, comfortably and without worry.

There are currently over 19,500 ISO standards with a further 1100 added each year. The following information has been broken down into categories attaining to each specific area of EN specification. Areas relevant to your particular trade or work type are collectively grouped in our Work wear by EN SPEC category.

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PPE Buying Guide

We have compiled this user friendly guide to better aid your understanding and correct use of Personal Protective Equipment or (PPE) as it is more commonly known.

Head Protection

Protective headgear is available in many variations although there are two main conformity's that are most commonly used; the first EN397 provides protection from falling objects and debris, all safety helmets and hard hats must meet this standard. The British safety standard code BS EN 397: 1995 relates to the same level of protection.

The second EN812 or BS EN 812:1998 refers to the level of protection given by bump caps, baseball type caps that incorporate a protective skull liner to provide protection against bumps and scrapes but not from falling objects. This type of headgear should not be considered as a safety helmet and used only for general working where there is no risk of falling objects.

Protective Footwear Safety Ratings CE EN345-1:1993 or EN ISO 20345

Safety footwear such as; steel toe cap boots, rigger boots or safety shoes have many variations within EN Specification and often the level of protection is environment specific and includes a further classification for each environment. These classifications include:

200 Joule Toe Cap Protection

  • SB = Safety Basic has all features required for the standard, 200 joule toe cap
  • SBP = Same as SB but with pierce resistant mid-sole
  • S1 = Same as SB but with anti-static sole & cushioned energy absorption heel area
  • S1 + P = Same as S1 but with pierce resistant mid-sole
  • S2 = Same as S1 but with water resistant upper
  • S3 = Same as S2 but with pierce resistant mid-sole
  • S4 = Basic properties & anti-static properties, heel energy absorption, all rubber or all polymeric anti-static footwear
  • S5 = Like S4 and with pierce resistant sole, studded sole, cleated outsole

100 Joule Toe Cap Protection

  • PB = Protective Basic, 100 Joule Toecap Protection
  • P1 = 100 Joule Toecap Protection incorporating fully enclosed heel, antistatic properties & Energy absorption
  • P2 = 100 Joule Toecap Protection incorporating fully enclosed heel, antistatic properties, energy absorption, water penetration & water absorption resistance
  • P3 = 100 Joule Toecap Protection incorporating fully enclosed heel, antistatic properties, energy absorption, water penetration & water absorption resistance & penetration resistance (cleated out-sole)

Slip Resistance Safety Symbols in Accordance with EN ISO 20345

  • SRA = Footwear is tested on clay tiles with sodium lauryl sulphate and meets a minimum Coefficient (CoF) of friction of 0.32 tested flat & CoF 0.28 tested at the heel
  • SRB = Footwear is tested on stainless steel with a glycerol solution and meets a CoF of 0.18 tested flat & 0.13 tested at the heel
  • SRC = Footwear indicates both SRA & SRB are met

Regular safety footwear carries the EN345 mark or with newly added products ISO EN20345, the original specification mark of EN345 is often followed by the classifications as listed above such as EN345-SB etc. Other relevant specifications to safety footwear include EN344, EN345, EN346 and EN347 each of the specifications refers to safety boots/footwear with added properties shown below:

Protection Symbols

  • A = Antistatic
  • AN = Ankle Protection
  • CI = Cold Insulation
  • CR = Cut Resistant
  • E = Energy Absorption of seat region
  • HI = Heat Insulation
  • HRO = Heat Resistant Outsole
  • M = Metatarsal Protection
  • ORO/FO = Oil Resistant Outsole
  • P = Penetration Resistance (Standard for S3 code)
  • WR = Water Resistance
  • WRU = Water penetration/absorption

European Normalisation or EN conformity for chainsaw boots are an example of these Specifications for water resistance; protection against cutting by hand held chainsaws, metatarsal and cut resistance EN381-3 chainsaw operator risk, similarly most EN standards can be followed by a variety of codes to meet each safety criteria.

Additionally Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should also carry a CE mark; CE marking is a declaration by the manufacturer that the product meets and adheres to all the appropriate provisions of the relevant legislation implementing certain European Directives.

Flame Retardant

Working in environments where risk of fire is present such as; welding, cutting or being in close proximity to flammable materials requires flame retardant protective clothing. While this protective equipment is not fireproof it does offer short term protection to the user. There are varying levels of protection that afford themselves to flame retardant clothing EN470 is the standard. Additional numbers may be added to specify the exact requirement needed for a certain task such as; EN470-1 which is the European Standard for protective clothing worn during welding operations and allied processes.

EN531 refers to the requirement of flame retardant clothing such as; flame retardant overalls to protect against industrial heat and flames. This also covers hoods and leg protectors but excludes head; hands and glove protection. Protection against droplets of molten metal is often incorporated within the other EN specifications as EN348.

High Visibility Garments

Reflective clothing has to meet varying requirements depending on the environment in which it is being used. These requirements are broke down into 3 classes. Class 1 defines the lowest level and can be combined with other classes to upgrade the visibility of the worker. There are many codes of practices to adhere to such as the Safety at Street Work and Road Works Code of Practice as used by the highways agency.

The highest level is given the EN number EN471 class 3 this level of protection should be worn on all major roads where the speed limit exceeds 40mph, lesser protection EN471 class 2 would be used where the maximum speed was less than 40mph. Finally EN471 class 1 should only be used in situations where risk is at a minimum such as areas where traffic is slower and infrequent.

EN 371 Class 1

Defines the lowest visibility level such as; High-visibility trousers with two 5 cm reflective bands around both legs, this would become Class 3 when worn with a Class 3 jacket.

EN 371 Class 2

Defines an Intermediate visibility level such as; two reflective 5 cm bands around the body or on one 5 cm band around the body with braces to both shoulders. This is deemed sufficient for working near highways.

EN 371 Class 3

Defines the highest visibility level such as; a long sleeved jacket or a jacket and trouser suit with two reflective 5 cm bands around the body, arms & braces over both shoulders. This specification is a requirement when working or being in close proximity of a motorway.

Waterproof Clothing

EN Specifications for Waterproof clothing EN343 is broke down into 3 classes, each class referring to the level of protection given by each. Class 1 or EN343 Class 1 refers to the lowest level of protection against foul weather conditions. EN343 Class 2 refers to an intermediate level of protection against foul weather conditions and finally EN343 Class 3 refers to the highest level of protection against foul weather conditions.

Hearing Protection

Hearing protection is essential when working in environments where noise reaches levels above 80 dB for prolonged periods of time. A good example is when working with compressed air tools such as a jackhammer, pneumatic hand tools or cutting glass. The minimum level of protection required for ear defenders or ear plugs is specified in European legislation as EN352. Hearing loss often occurs over many years and is rarely noticeable short term, precautions should be taken now to minimise the impact in years to come.

Eye Protection

There are many variations of protective eyewear such as; protective glasses, safety goggles, face visors and safety spectacles. It is vastly important to have the right eye protection specific to you trade. Many people will commonly use eye protection to some level or another but all too often other areas of eye safety are ignored. Mostly the protection offered from such personal protective equipment is to prevent injury against flying debris, it is also important to remember that eyes can be affected by ultraviolet light, radiation and other unseen hazards.

The EN Specification EN166 refers to the standard level of protection that all eye wear must meet. As with other safety equipment this EN specification can be followed by letters and numbers to define the exact level of protection for each situation. Example EN166-1 refers to the optical strength of the glass or plastic used in each product.

  • S = Optical Glass
  • F = Low Energy Impact
  • B = Medium Energy Impact
  • 9 = Non adherence of molten metal and resistance to penetration of hot solids
  • W = Protection against liquid droplets/splashes

Safety Harnesses

Health and safety regulations require that safety harnesses be used in all cases where a person is working at height. Fall arrest harnesses are strapped around the workers body then attached to a safety rope lanyard via a karabiner attachment; the other end of the lanyard is then attached to a predetermined anchorage point. There are varying types of fall restraint systems such as; a full body harness or a work platform harness both types offer protection for specific work areas.

Fall arrest systems are designed to protect workers from falls from height such as scaffold or roofing contractors. The minimum regulation requirement for work at height harnesses is EN361, Additional equipment to accompany this requirement have there own unique EN numbers as follows.

It is no longer possible to have a repair and check done to a safety harness already bought, the life of a safety harness is 12 months from purchase due to the possibility of stitching deteriorating - even if the harness has never been used. A certificate should always be supplied when a harness if purchased.

En 363 Specifications providing protection against falling from height.

  • EN341 = Rappel devices / descender devices
  • EN353-1 = Guided type fall arresters including a rigid anchor line
  • EN353-2 = Guided type fall arresters including a flexible anchor line
  • EN354 = Safety Lanyards
  • EN355 = Energy absorbers / inertia reel blocks
  • EN360 = Retractable type fall arresters
  • EN361 = Full body harnesses
  • EN362 = Connectors / karabiners
  • EN363 = Fall arrest systems
  • EN364 = Testing methods
  • EN365 = Other protective equipment for protection against falls from height - maintenance, periodical examination, marking and packaging, instructions for use & general requirements
  • EN358 = Personal protective equipment for work positioning & prevention of falls from height - Belts for work positioning, restraint, work positioning lanyards

Protective Gloves

Before choosing protective gloves you need to be aware of the dangers your workplace presents; be that chemical, mechanical or thermal hazards. Safety gloves are manufactured to meet a specific criteria pertaining to the conditions in which they will be used such as; rigger gloves for heavy work or Nitrile gloves for fabrication and metal work. The European Normalisation or EN numbers given to protective hand wear are shown in this table below. To conform to European regulations all gloves must adhere to Personal Protective Equipment 89/686/EEC directive. There are 3 main categories based on risk factor as follows;

Category 1 (Cat I)

Protection from minor risks only, advisory of self-certification by the producer with CE marking.

Category 2 (Cat II)

Protection from regular and identified risks & Certified by a licenced laboratory with CE marking.

Category 3 (Cat III)

Protection from irreversible or fatal risks, certified by a licenced laboratory with managed production using a quality assurance system such as EN or ISO standards. Depending on testing methods these EN specifications may include numbers 1-5 after the EN mark.

  • EN388 = Defines the protection given against mechanical and physical hazards. Testing methods - abrasion - perforation resistance - tear resistance - cutting resistance
  • EN374 = Protection against Chemicals and Micro-Organisms
  • EN407 = Protection against thermal risks such as; heat and/or fire
  • EN12477 = Protection against molted metal splash including wrist area, welding gloves
  • EN511 = Protection against cold
  • EN420 = This standard defines the general requirements under testing such as; innocuousness, construction of glove & water resistance
  • EN340 = Protective clothing general requirements

Whilst having an EN number and carrying a CE mark additionally hand protection also has pictogram's to represent the level of testing and the course of testing. The test methods are abrasion resistance; sharp blade cut resistance, tear resistance & finally puncture resistance, these symbols are present throughout the website.

Cold Store Clothing

Cold store clothing is for the protection of workers working in cold conditions such as; industrial storage freezers or other cold environments. There is a complete range of clothing specifically designed for these conditions such as; cold store overalls, padded jackets and insulated work trousers. The minimum requirement for personal protective equipment 89/686/EEC directive is marked as EN342 other EN marks relating to cold store clothing are listed below. Other factors such as; Air Permeability and Water Vapour Resistance would also be considered within this EN Spec where required.

  • ENV342 = Protective Garment against Cold
  • EN 342 = Protection Against Cold
  • EN 343 = Protection Against Foul Weather

Chainsaw Protection

The EN classification for personal protective equipment referring to chainsaw user protection is EN381 this specification incorporates EN340 for work clothing with 11 sub-divisions. The divisions attain to levels of protection when using a variety of chainsaw equipment such as; chainsaw boots, trousers, jackets and gloves. These sub-divisions are area specific to the use of chainsaws of varying speeds.

  • EN381 = Protective clothing for chainsaw users, EN381 has sub-divisions attaining to varying types of protection these are broken up into 4 classes
  • EN381-5 = Protective Equipment – Leg Covers, there are 3 types of fabric used for leg protectors these are A, B and C. C is often only used for minimal use of chainsaws
  • EN381-7 = Protective chainsaw gloves
  • EN381-9 = Protective chainsaw gaiters
  • EN381-11 = Protective requirements for upper body

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

Working environments where particles of dust or other harmful air born substances are present require respiratory protection such as; a face mask or breathing apparatus. While in some cases a simple dusk mask may be acceptable it is still imperative to check what type of respiratory aid you require for any particular job.

Such hazardous materials as asbestos can be life threatening and while you may not see any difference from day to day over a period of years asbestos and other air born hazards can prove fatal. Under European legislation respiratory devices are given the EN number EN149 this is the basic level of protection required. This specification is broken down into sub divisions referring to the level of protection each device gives.

EN149:2001 differs from EN149:1991 in that it is mandatory to provide protection against solid and liquid aerosols in EN149:2001. The 3 classes are;

  • Type 1 FFP1 = Protection against non toxic solid and liquid aerosols up to a limit of 4.5 x “Occupational Exposure Limit” O.E.L or 4 x APF (Assigned Protection Factor)
  • Type 2 FFP2 = Protection against non toxic and low to average toxicity solid & liquid aerosols in concentrations up to 12 x O.E.L “Occupational Exposure Limit”, or 10 x (Assigned Protection Factor)
  • Type 3 FFP3 = Protection against non toxic or low to average toxicity & high toxicity, solid and liquid aerosols such as oil mists in levels up to 50 x O.E.L. “Occupational Exposure Limit”, or 20 x (Assigned Protection Factor) APF

Other relevant EN numbers in this category are

  • EN405 = Respiratory protective devices, Valved filtering half masks to protect against gases and/or particles
  • EN136 = Full face masks that cover whole face
  • EN139 = Compressed airline breathing apparatus incorporating full or half mask protection
  • EN140 = Half masks covering nose, mouth and chin
  • EN141 = Filters anti-gas and combined
  • EN143 = Filters for particles
  • EN371 = Filters, anti-gas AX & filters combined
  • EN1827 = Half-masks without inhalation valve, with dismantle-able filters, against gases and particles

All Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) we supply meets or exceeds the minimum safety requirements set out in EU legislation to the current European Normalisation standard; these standards are constantly being revised and updated. This guide is for reference only; if you are unsure of the particulars required for your safety clothing then speak with your employer or contact the (HSE) Health & Safety Executive or visit their website listed below.

As well as EN Specifications all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) also carries a CE marking, CE is French for Conformité Européenne or European Conformity in English. Having the CE marking means that the product has undergone testing and procedures to assess its safety level meets that of the conformity for that particular product. For full details on CE marking and what it means visit the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) website.

Related EN Spec sites within the United Kingdom

Related EN Spec sites (Worldwide)