A guide to the current classifications for Personal Protective Equipment

This guide will help you understand the many codes relating to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the level of protection afforded by the products that bear them.

CE – All PPE should carry the CE Mark appearing in the form of the letters “CE” which is an abbreviation for Conformité Européenne (French for European Conformity). Any product bearing the CE mark conforms to all current requirements and other applicable provisions imposed upon it by European legislation, and that the product has been subject to the appropriate conformity assessment procedure(s).


EN345 (200 Joules) – All safety footwear, regardless of style, should have steel toe-caps conforming to EN345 (200 Joules). This means the steel toe-cap will withstand the impact of 20kg in weight falling on to the toes from a height of 10.2 metres. This standard also relates to compression protection corresponding to approximately 1.5 tonnes resting on the toe area.


Wearing appropriate protection when working in foundries or when welding is essential, but ensure that you have the correct product for your particular environment and work.

EN470 Part 1 – specification for use in welding and similar activities.

EN531 – specification for industrial workers exposed to heat.


All high visibility garments should meet the current requirements of The Safety at Street Work and Road Works Code of Practice.

EN471 Class 3 – is the highest protection level (maximum protection). This level of protection should be worn on trunk roads and all other roads forming the Primary Route Network (PRN), roads displaying green/blue directional signs and all other roads where the speed limit is 40mph and above.

EN471 Class 2 – provides intermediate protection (medium visibility) and is the minimum requirement when working on all roads where the speed limit is less than 40mph.

EN471 Class 1 – offers the lowest level of protection and should be only worn in areas of minimal risk, possibly off road situations such as transport depots.


EN343 – is the code relating to waterproof garments. But these garments are also available in three classifications.

EN343 Class 3 – affords the highest level of foul weather protection.

EN343 Class 2 – will provide an intermediate level of foul weather protection.

EN343 Class 1 - provides the lowest level of foul weather protection.


There are two types of protective headgear that provide two different levels of protection.

EN397 – relates to the industrial safety helmet that will protect against falling objects.

EN812 – will normally be found on baseball-style caps with an inner scalpguard liner to protect against the accidental scraping and bumping of the head. This type of product is not to be worn if there is a risk of being struck on the head by falling objects.


EN352 – is the minimum requirement under current European legislation for ear defenders and ear plugs.


EN166 – represents the minimum requirement for safety goggles and spectacles as laid down by European directives.


Safety harnesses for working at height should always have the following codes.

EN361 – is the minimum standard required under current European legislation for a full body safety harness.

EN354 – relates to the lanyard used in PPE worn for preventing falls when working at height.


EN388 – is the classification for gloves designed to protect the hands against mechanical risks

EN407 – Protective gloves against thermal hazards (heat and/or fire)

EN511 – Protective gloves against cold

EN374 – Protective gloves against chemicals and micro-organisms

EN12477 – is the standard for protective gauntlets for welders


EN342 – is the minimum standard for garments worn for protection against cool environments.


EN1149 Class 1 – Electrostatic properties - Part 1 : test method for measurement of surface resistivity.


EN14404 – Personal Protective Equipment - knee protectors for work in the kneeling position.


EN381 – is the classification for protective clothing for users of hand-held chainsaws. There are 11 separate parts to this particular classification that cover different garments e.g. boots, gloves, jackets, trousers etc.