Anyone responsible for safety garment procurement decisions has a responsibility to make sure the products they’re buying are suitable for the risks their workers face.
To help you decide which supplier’s protective garments are the best to meet the flame resistance or arc flash safety requirements you need, you should request and compare each supplier’s certifications.
Here are three initial points to consider:
1. How do I know the garment I’m considering has the relevant certifications?
Manufacturers operating responsibly and within the law will have a Module D registration. This is what can give you confidence you are buying quality products as it will only be issued by a Notified or Authorised Body after substantial checks. For products to have a UKCA or CE mark, the manufacturer must have a Module D registration.
To be certain the garments you’re considering have the relevant certifications, ask to see the Declaration of Conformity. This will tell you all of the standards the garment conforms to (known as Module B), as well as containing details of the Module D manufacturer’s registration. If you’re in any doubt about the authenticity of the documents you’re given, check with the Authorised or Notified Body directly.
Since 1 January 2021, all safety garments placed on the market in Britain must have obtained the UKCA mark (although until 1 January 2022, products placed on the market before that date may still display only the CE mark). The care label may carry the CE mark as well if the supplier markets the same garment on the continent.
2. What does the UKCA or CE certification tell me about the product?
All hazards are categorized according to the level of risk they present. Safety products which protect against the lowest level of hazard (category 1) include items such as kit only designed to be waterproof.
For this low hazard category, suppliers can self-certify the product’s conformance with safety standards. However, they must still do all the same safety testing first and be able to provide all the appropriate evidence to support this, if an authorised body requests it.
Items deemed appropriate for medium to high level hazards (referred to as category 2 and 3 hazards) must go through what’s called a Notified Body for CE marks, or Authorised Body for UKCA marks, to be certified.
In these circumstances, the UKCA/CE certification tells you that an independent body (which has been officially accredited by the Government/EU) has completed a rigorous assessment process, known as Module B Type Examination, that verifies the product’s safety claims stand up to scrutiny.
3. How do I know which product is best?
As you would expect, the UKCA/CE certification process is robust and thorough. And, as no two garments from different companies are identical, the test data and certifications will be unique to the supplier and garment type.
Due diligence is an essential part of the procurement decision making process, so it’s vital you see the Declaration of Conformity for each product you’re considering and take the time to compare them in detail.
4. What will the UKCA or CE certification tell you?
Even after the lengthy process of research and development, followed by extensive safety testing of both the garment as a whole and the individual elements, the process to secure a CE or UKCA Type B Examination certification can still take a further 3-9 months.
To achieve certification, we prepare and submit a detailed specification file for each garment and send this to the accredited Notified Body. This file must contain:
- Details of what the garment is
- What it looks like
- How it’s constructed
- A detailed description of features (such as any pockets or belt loops, their design and where they’re placed)
- A full list of all the materials used (including the exact fabric(s), stitching thread(s), fastenings, other components, and the care label)
- All safety test data for the product
- Where the product is manufactured
- User information
- Essential Health and Safety requirements
- Risk assessment
In addition, we also send our product packaging and any user information/guidance sheets we would send to customers with the item.
We must also provide a list of each safety standard (and to what specific level) we claim the garment can meet (and all the test data to evidence this) along with quality assurance process information, evidenced by our Module D Certificate, which demonstrates every garment of the same design will be produced to the same standard.
Finally, we enclose the design for the product’s care label which, by law, must include all the certification markings and standards, including specific details about the performance levels against each standard.
The role of the Notified/Authorised Body is to inspect this extensive file of information and make sure they are 100% satisfied the garment meets the requirements of the standards and the PPE regulations before they will provide the appropriate certification marks.
Their inspection is an iterative process and one of the reasons it can take so long to achieve certification is because they can provide challenge at any time as part of their assessments.
If they believe any information is insufficient or missing from the pack (such as test data), or they believe the label isn’t clear, or they need more information about anything (such as more detail about the fabrics used), they revert to the manufacturer to provide this information before they will complete the certification process.
Ultimately, the certification acts as an official verification of the safety claims a manufacturer makes about a specific product and it’s therefore a vital consideration for buyers as part of the procurement decision making process.
No need to compromise
If you’re looking to increase arc flash protection for your team and you’re not quite sure what you need, please feel free to contact us.
We work tirelessly to understand industry specific risks and are more than happy to help. Simply call 44 (0) 1482 679600 to discuss your requirements or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure that you’re specifying the right PPE for your team.
Read our free guide on the top considerations when choosing Arc Flash clothing & PPE below and make the best choice for you and your team via the link below ⬇.Back