Misleading CE mark

24-04-2014   |   legal

Still there is personal protective equipment (PPE) on the market which is not CE certified , while there is a legal obligation. Often these products are indistinguishable from real and sometimes it seems that suppliers are gambling on the incompetence of the customer. Where should you look?


The use of non - certified personal protective equipment can be very dangerous. One should be aware of this. But how can you recognize these fake products? In this article you will find some examples and tips.


Misleading terminology

On a website, a product is shown with the words " retroreflection in accordance with EN 20471 ." Implied is that the product does not meet the standard for high visibility clothing (EN 20471), but that there is some retroreflective striping on the product. Can the inexpert buyer make this distinction? Use of this type of product does not only endanger the wearer, it also negatively affects the perception of others, CE approved high visibility clothing. Descriptions on websites and in catalogs along the lines of "conforming to standard 'or' based on the standard " should ring an alarm bell.


Striking use of icons

The use of icons is not protected. One can easily apply all kinds of icons on protective clothing, such as a flame symbol, and thus implying that the clothing meets the corresponding standards and thus to the applicable EU laws and regulations.

But in fact these icons are inconclusive about the CE certification and so on the actual performance of the product.

Similar are the icons and / or standard information on labels supplied by fabric manufacturers to clothing manufacturers. These labels often contain the washing and care symbols, the fabric name and composition. They are applied by clothing manufacturers in the clothing, suggesting that the clothing meet all the mentioned EN ISO standards. Very misleading to unknowing customers.


Application of material standards rather than product standards

Sometimes products do not meet the applicable product standards. Some garment manufacturers are not afraid to use in that case the standards which only counts for the fabric they are using in the garment. Clothing only meets these material standards is not necessarily suitable for personal protection and may not bear the CE mark.

Fake CE certificate

Fake certificates are sometimes among imported PPE. They are issued by organizations that are not registered as a notified body and/or they just declare that a certain product meets certain standards. In other words, the explicit expression of conformity with the EU directive 89/686/EC is missing. (The site http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newapproach/nando/ is a current list of all notified bodies and fields for which they have accreditation).


No a CE certificate but yet a CE mark

There is a clear certification requirement and obligation for all manufacturers and importers of products under one of the European directives, such as personal protective equipment (PPE). Unfortunately, there is too little governmental surveillance that enforces compliance and this does seem to provide uncertified products in hand  Highly dangerous, because the buyer has no guarantee that the product actually meets the minimum safety and health requirements. A CE mark is easily printed on a product.

Tips for a safe purchase

The employer bears responsability purchasing  legitimatly CE marked personal protective equipment (PPE). Take notice of the following recommendations prior to purchasing:


  1. Buy only from suppliers that are well known and familiar with the products. They also should have a good reputation in this field.
  2. Request a copy of the CE certificate and a declaration of conformity or consult the database (www.clearmark.eu) to determine the legitimately of the certification. Pay attention to the definition and identification of the product. Compare the product data on the quotation with that on the certificate. Also check the validity of the certificate.
  3. Determine whether or not via your safety expert, what standards and performance levels you really need. Match your requirements with the intended use of the product.
  4. Consider not only the standards, but also try to get some indication of other product properties such as durability, maintenance etc. Take this also into account with your final choice and selection.
  5. Question, before making a final choice, the user instructions of all candidate products and compare these with your internal security, maintenance and users requirements.
  6. Verify that your supplier is the manufacturer or authorized representative. If he is only the importer, keep in mind that any product liability is difficult to claim.
  7. Always ask for products with valid standards. For example, check through www.nen.nl or www.iso.org which standard version is valid. Products meeting overdue standards can still be solded in the EU market but sometimes under special conditions. Consult your supplier whether and why this is the case.


Author : Leon Vaassen (CE consultant and founder of www.clearmark.eu).


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