PPE Safety Information - PF Cusack

PPE Safety Information

Employer PPE Responsibilities

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required for day to day working in all industries where an employee's health and safety may be at risk, therefore employers must provide:

  • Free of charge PPE, ensuring it is fully compliant.
  • Relevant training to ensure employees are aware of the need for PPE, as well as to use it properly and it fits correctly.
  • Maintenance, repair or replacement of equipment as and when required.
  • Confirmation that PPE products carry the necessary CE mark in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002.

Jump to: Head Protection | Hearing Protection | Eye Protection | Respiratory Protection | Hand Protection | Workwear and Protective Clothing | Foot Protection | Ladies PPE | Fall Arrest Equipment

Head Protection

You should always wear head protection when there is a potential risk of falling objects, debris or possible electric shocks. The European standard for general use safety helmets is EN397. All safety helmets sold by Cusack meet this standard. The tests required to meet this standard are designed to protect the worker from possible falling objects and possible brain damage and/or fractured skull as a result. Optional tests for helmets are:

  • Lateral Deformation - provides a level of protection against compression, indicating improved side strength of the safety helmet.
  • Low Temperature Performance - the safety helmet will provide protection when worn at or above this temperature.
  • Electrical Insulation - (440v a.c), this test indicates protection from electric shock.
  • Molten Metal - this test ensures that there is no penetration of molten metal splash, indicating a quality heat resistant shell.

EN Standards


Electrically insulating helmets for use on low voltage installations.


The standard for bump caps that have been developed to protect the worker against bumps rather than protect against falling object and should not be used as a safety helmet.


Safety helmets tested to the mountaineering standard.

We also acknowledge the new colour scheme recently introduced and although this may differ in many countries and interpretations may be made in UK businesses, we have access to all the adopted colours:

  • White - managers, foremen, engineers or supervisors.
  • Green - new workers / probationary staff.
  • Yellow - general labourers and moving operators.
  • Blue - carpenters or other technical operators including electricians.
  • Orange - road workers.
  • Grey - visitors or where staff have forgotten their relevant safety helmet.

We offer a branding service to personalise your head protection. Contact us for details.

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Hearing Protection

Employers are required by law to comply with the control of noise at work. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 has been designed to ensure employees hearing is protected against excessive noise within the workplace. Where average noise leves are 80dB or above, the employer is required to assess the risk to their employees and make hearing protection and training available. At 85dB and above, the use of hearing protection is mandatory. When HPE (hearing protection equipment) is worn, employees must not be exposed to noise levels above 87dB.

  • Hair Dryer / Vacuum Cleaner = 70dB - upper 70s dB are exceptionally noisy to many people.
  • Power Lawn Mower (Industrial Type) = 100dB - 8 times as loud as 70dB and possible damage after 8 hours.
  • Live Rock Music / Police Siren = 110dB - average.
  • Human Pain Threshold - 16 times as loud as 70dB.
  • Jet Takeoff (at 25 metres) = 150dB - eardrum rupture.

EN Standards


Hearing protection for ear muffs.


Hearing protection for ear plugs (markings may only appear on the packaging).


Hearing protection for ear defenders attached to a safety helmet.

We offer a comprehensive range of products from ear plugs to helmet mounted ear defenders.

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Eye Protection

Selection of eye protection is vital, whether it's safety spectacles or safety goggles there are many considerations needed to be evaluated, including air conditions for protection against dust and gas, light conditions and possible impact hazards from machinery.

EN Standards


Optical Standards for Lenses:

  • Class 1 - for continuous works.
  • Class 2 - for intermittent works.
  • Class 3 - for occasional works and must not be worn continuously.

Mechanical Properties:

  • S - increased robustness (general purpose).
  • A - high energy impact (190m/sec).
  • B - medium energy impact (120m/sec).
  • F - low energy impact (120m/sec).
  • T - increased robustness (general purpose impact performance at extreme temperatures).

Areas of Use:

  • 3 - liquids (chemical).
  • 4 - large dust particles.
  • 5 - gas and fine dust particles.
  • 8 - short circuit electric arc.
  • 9 - molten metal splashes.


  • N- resistance to misting / fogging.
  • K - resistance to mechanical damage (anti scratch).


Filters to protect against welding flash.


Filters to protect against ultra violet light. If the number 2 is displayed after EN170, this denotes that it may affect colour recognition. If 2C or 3 is displayed, this denotes that the filter allows good colour recognition.


Filters to protect against solar rays.

We offer a variety of lens options dependant on the light conditions:

  • Clear - suitable for all light conditions.
  • Amber - light enhancing properties make it ideal for low light conditions.
  • Silver Mirror - great when you are constantly moving in and out of varying light conditions.
  • Grey / Smoke - ideal for operatives where sunlight and glare could be a hazard.

We can also provide corrective lens safety glasses and offer an on site service. Please ask your relationship manager for further details.

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Respiratory Protection

Many respiratory hazards exist in the modern workplace but typically in construction and industrial environments they fall into one of five categories:

  • Dust - formed by the breaking down of solid materials. The smaller the particles, the greater the risk. Material fibres should also be treated as dust.
  • Mists - formed by the processes that involve atomisation such as spraying. Mists consist of tiny liquid droplets.
  • Fumes - formed by the vaporisation of a solid material by the application of extreme heat. Extremely fine particles are created as the vapour cools and condenses.
  • Vapours - a gaseous state formed by the evaporation from substances that are normally either solid or liquid at room temperature. The fume may form as vapour condenses.
  • Gases - An air-like substance at room temperature that has the ability to defuse and spread quickly and travel far.

EN Standards:

EN149:2001 + A1:2009 - Disposable Masks

The EN149:2001 standard for respiratory products was amended in 2009 to differentiate between non-reusable disposable masks (NR) and reusable masks (R). The standards are now EN149:2001 + A1:2009 for disposable masks. These are designed to cover the nose, mouth and chin, and are to be disposed of after each eight hour shift.

EN140 - Half Masks

Designed for use with particle and gas filters. Covering half of the face and manufactured in a flexible material, such as silicone or rubber.

EN136 - Full Face Masks

Designed for use with particle and gas filters. Covering the full face and manufactured in a flexible material, such as silicone or rubber.

EN405 - Maintenance Free Half Mask Respirators

These items come fitted with gas/dust or combination filters and covers the nose, mouth and chin, requiring no maintenance or spare parts. Filters should be disposed of when exhausted or within 28 days, whichever occurs first. These are also exempt from record keeping and the maintenance requirements for COSHH regulations.

EN12941 - Powered Hoods and Helmets

Designed for the protection against particles, gases and vapours. Three protection classes are given:

  • Class 1 - inward leakage of 10%.
  • Class 2 - inward leakage of 2%.
  • Class 3 - inward leakage of 0.2%.

EN14387 - Gas and Vapour Filters

For gasses and dust that can be fixed to either a half mask (EN140) or a full face mask (EN136).

EN143 - Particle Filters

For dust that can be fixed to either a half mask (EN140) or a full face mask (EN136).

Filter Guide


Provides medium protection against particles.


Provides high protection against particles.


Provides protection against organic gases/vapours, bp >65c.


Provides protection against organic gases/vapours, bp >60c.


Provides protection against (A) organic gases/vapours, bp >65c, (B) inorganic gases/vapours (not CO), (E) acid gases, (K) ammonia and organic derivatives and (1) low protection against particles.

Combination cartridges can be purchased such as ABEK1P3 combination filter, thus combining the protection of an ABEK1 filter with a P3 filter for added high protection against particles.

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Hand Protection

The use of hand protection maximises safety and ensures the compliance with the European safety laws that include EN420 (General Requirement for Gloves). The gloves themselves should not impose a risk or cause injury. We have a full range of hand protection within the following categories:

  • Disposable gloves.
  • General purpose grip gloves.
  • General handling gloves.
  • Arc flash protective gloves.
  • Cut resistant gloves.
  • Leather gloves.
  • Nitrile coated gloves.
  • PU coated gloves.
  • Rigger gloves.
  • Thermal grip gloves.

EN Standards


Applies to all kinds of protective gloves giving protection from mechanical risk in respect of physical problems caused by abrasion, blade cut, tearing or puncture. The standard also covers electrical discharge (until 1.4.19).


Specifies the capability of the gloves to protect the wearer against chemical and/or micro organisms. The chemical resistance three letter code applies to the chemical it is resistant to.


Applies to the thermal protection of the glove which protects the hands against convective and contact to cold.


Specifies thermal performance for protecting against heat and/or fire.


Defines performance requirements for gloves designed to protect fire fighters against heat and flames.


Lays down the requirement criteria for gloves specifically tested to offer protection against ionising radiation / radioactive contamination.


Standard set out for medical gloves. If a glove is specifically for food handling then the wording "for food use" or the CE symbol should be used.

EN388 (2013 Revision)

Mechanical hazards. Gloves can continue to be sold with the 2003 revision until April 2019). This conformity is followed by a series of numbers which denote the various levels of protection they offer:

  • First number always relates to the products abrasion resistant and is measured from 0 to 4, with 4 being the maximum.
  • Second number recognises the gloves blade cut resistance and is measured from 0 to 5, with 5 being the maximum.
  • Third number represents its tear resistance properties on a scale of 0 to 4, with 4 being the maximum.
  • Fourth number measures its puncture resistance properties from 0 to 4, with 4 being the maximum.


Thermal hazard. The same test applies to this standard as that of EN388, but with the following all measured from 0 to 4, with 4 being the maximum:

  • First number - burning behaviour.
  • Second number - contact heat.
  • Third number - convective heat.
  • Forth number - radiant heat.
  • Fifth number - small splashes of molten metal.
  • Sixth number - large splashes of molten metal.


Cold protection. This conformity is followed by a series of numbers which denote the various levels of protection they offer:

  • First number relates to the resistance to convection cold and is measured from 0 to 4, with 4 being the maximum.
  • Second number relates to the resistance to contact cold and is measured from 0 to 4, with 4 being the maximum.
  • Third number relates to the permeability to water and is either 0 or 1, with one being the maximum.

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Workwear and Protective Clothing

Specialised Fabrics

There are a number of fabrics used in the creation of flame retardant (FR) clothing, all designed to reduce the wearer's chances of burn injuries and ultimately their chances of survival in the event of an issue.

  • Treated fabrics - produced by applying a flame retardant chemical to the material prior to spinning, then activated by intense heat. This chemical is washed out over time and garments will display the number of washes and wash instructions.
  • Flame retardant fabric - made from fibres with naturally flame resistant properties (not via chemical treatment). Therefore this will not be affected by washing or wearing.
  • Arc flash - tested to prevent the wearer being affected by an electric arc which is spark created in an electrical system, such as turning on a light switch and seeing a tiny spark created as a result (this is why switches should not be used if you suspect a gas leak is present as this could result in what's known as a flashover from an impedance connection through air to ground or to another voltage phase).

EN Standards

EN ISO 20471:2013 (Formerly EN471)

Sets the minimum standards of visual performance and durability needed for high visibility clothing worn in the workplace. Compliance with EN471 ensures that the wearer is as visible as possible against varying backgrounds in all weather and lighting conditions (bright daylight as well as rain, mist, dusk and night time). It also ensures that a garment's conspicuity and structural integrity are retained over a reasonable service life in a workwear application. There are three classes of garment based on the conspicuity levels they provide. All garments must have reflective tape no less than 50mm.

EN471 is still valid, but as of September 2014 there is a new EN ISO 20471 standard.

Within EN471 there are these classifications:

  • Class 1 - provides the lowest level of conspicuity.
  • Class 2 - provides an intermediate level of conspicuity.
  • Class 3 - provides the highest level of conspicuity.

EN ISO 20471:2013 specifies requirements for high visibility clothing which is capable of visually signalling the wearer's presence. The high visibility clothing is intended to provide conspicuity to the wearer in any light conditions including daytime light and under illumination of lights in the dark when viewed by operators of vehicles or other mechanised equipment. Performance requirements are included for colour and retro reflection as well as for the minimum areas for the placement of the materials.

EN471 comprised of two values: risk class and quality of the reflective strip. The new EN ISO 20471:2013 standard only considers the risk class, as only the highest quality of reflective strip is permitted. EN471 only prescribed the number of times the reflective material could be washed, whereas EN ISO 20471:2013 also does this for the fluorescent material.

Like EN471, the new EN ISO 20471:2013 standard continues to have three levels of protection, where the class of the garment is determined by the minimum area of material visible:

  • Class 1 - provides the lowest level of conspicuity.
  • Class 2 - provides an intermediate level of conspicuity.
  • Class 3 - provides the highest level of conspicuity.


Protective clothing certified according to EN343 protects against precipitation as rain, snow, fog and ground humidity. Resistance to water penetration and water vapour are the two main properties which are tested for EN343. On the label, EN343 will be followed by two numbers; for example EN343 3:3, with the first digit denoting its water penetration resistance whilst the second digit denotes its breathability.

The standards for EN343 resistance to water penetration are:

  • Class 1 - provides lowest level of foul weather protection.
  • Class 2 - provides intermediate level of foul weather protection.
  • Class 3 - provides highest level of foul weather protection.

The standard for EN343 breathability properties are:

  • Class 1 - not classified as breathable.
  • Class 2 - provides intermediate levels of breathability.
  • Class 3 - provides the highest level of breathability.

EN343 certified garments will protect the wearer against these conditions provided that:

  • The garment is closed before use to ensure maximum protective performance.
  • The fabric is clean because if it is dirty, its performance may be impaired.
  • The protective clothing is stored in a dry and well ventilated space.
  • The garment is cared for according to the instructions inside the garment to ensure maximum protective performance.

RIS-3279-TOM (Formerly GO/RT 3279)

The Railway Group Standard GO/RT 3279 has been replaced by The Rail Industry Standard RIS-3279-TOM. All Cusack rail garments that are certified to GO/RT 3279 are automatically compliant with the new RIS-3279-TOM standard.

No orange high visibility garment without the RIS-3279-TOM or GO/RT 3279 specification certificate can be used on UK railways on the line side or on, or near, the line. The garments need to exceed the requirements in EN ISO 20471 (formerly EN471) for both the minimum area of orange background material and retro reflective tape used in the garment. Also, the orange colour must meet the highest level of photometric performance criteria that is specified within the standard. These garments must also meet with the requirements for Class 2 garments as set out in BS.

For EN ISO 20471, there is an exception for mini vests where duties require the use of high visibility clothing, but the nature of the work does not involve possible obscuring of the high visibility clothing.

EN ISO 14116:2008 (Formerly EN533)

Specifies the performance requirement for the limited flame spread properties of materials, material assemblies and protective clothing in order to reduce the possibility of the clothing burning and therefore avoiding a hazard. Clothing meeting the standard is intended to protect workers against occasional and brief contact with small igniting flames.

BS EN ISO 11611:2007 (Formerly EN471-1:1995)

Specifies safety requirements and test methods for protective clothing including hoods, aprons, sleeves and gaiters that are designed to protect the wearer's body including head (hoods) and feet (gaiters) and are to be worn during welding and allied processes with comparable risks.

BS EN ISO 11612:2008 (Formerly EN531:1995)

Specifies the performance requirements applicable to garments which could be worn in a wide range of ends uses where there is a need for clothing with limited flame spread properties and where the user can be exposed to radiant, convective, contact heat or to molten metal splash.

BS EN 1149-5

Specifies material and design requirements for clothing that permits the dissipation of electrostatic charges. It covers clothing used as part of an earthed system to avoid incendiary discharge of static electricity. The requirements may not be sufficient in oxygen enriched flammable atmospheres. This standard does not apply to protection against mains voltages.


Tested against thermal hazards of an arc flash via the "Open Arc" test methodology. The arc rating is quantified by the Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV) determined by the open arc test method IEC 61482-1. The ATPV represents the maximum incident thermal energy in units of energy per surface area (e.g. kJ/m² or cal/cm²) that a fabric can support before second degree burns occur.

The break open threshold energy (or EBT) is another fabric characteristic. It represents the highest incident energy exposure value on a fabric where the garments do not exhibit break open. The formation of holes in the fabric caused by break open would allow heat or flames to pass through. Workers are assumed safe if the arc rating of their clothing (or ATPV value) exceeds the electric arc incident energy as calculated in the worst case scenario of a risk assessment. Materials and/or assemblies are given an ATPV value, expressed in kilojoules per square metre (kJ/m²), which can be converted into the familiar cal/cm².


Tested against thermal hazards of an arc flash via the "Arc in a Box" test methodology. The box test is another way to measure the protective performance of clothing against the thermal effects of an electric arc as outlined in the IEC 61482-1-2 test method. In this test the fabric is exposed to an electric arc confined in a specific box with a specific electrode. The fabric will pass the test if:

  • The heat transferred behind the fabric does not cause second degree burn.
  • The after flame time is below 5 seconds.
  • There is no melting to the inner side of the fabric.
  • A hole caused by the arc is not larger than 5mm in every direction in the inner most layer.

The box test standard has two testing conditions, known as Class 1 and Class 2. Test conditions for Class 1 try to simulate typical exposure conditions for a short circuit current of 4kA protected by devices limiting the duration of the arc to 0.5 seconds in confined space and of 7kA respectively for Class 2.

IEC 61482-2/CDV

Performance requirements for garments. Flame retardant garments are CE marked to the above standard. This standard contains specifications for protective clothing tested according to either "Open Arc" or "Arc in a Box". The standard requires the following:

  • A single layer garment having a minimum of ATPV = 4 cal/cm² (167.5 kJ/m²) when tested to the Open Arc test method or Class 1 when tested to the Arc in a Box method.
  • The thread used in the manufacture of the garment must withstand 260 degrees.
  • When garments have a higher rating of arc protection on the front than the back, the torso, sleeves and legs must be in the same arc rated material as the front.
  • Garments must have no exposed external metal (any internal metal or melting parts are to be covered inside to avoid contact with the skin).
  • The garment label will show the lowest ATPV or class if differing panels on the garment are used. The double triangle symbol will be on the label with the ATPV and/or Class underneath it.
  • Upper (i.e. torso) garments only will be visually tested to the IEC Open Arc or Arc in a Box test and the fastenings are to still perform after the arc test.
  • Additional user information will be provided to include that no undergarments which melt under arc exposure are to be worn and that other PPE should be worn for full body protection (e.g. helmets and gloves).

Layering Principle - when FR garments are worn together or 'layered', the time before the wearer sustains a second degree burn is significantly longer than when the garments are worn individually.

Foot Protection

EN Standards


The most recognised and commonly used standard for safety footwear is EN20345:2011. This standard ensures all safety footwear can be easily identified from its marking and correct for the relevant hazards.

There are many levels of protection available:

All Materials:

  • SB - basic properties with a toe cap under EN345 to 200 joules.
  • SBP - AS SB but with a penetration resistance midsole.

Class 1 - All Materials Except for Natural or Synthetic:

  • S1 - closed back, anti static and energy absorbing heel.
  • S1P - as S1 plus anti penetration sole.
  • S2 - as S1 plus water resistant upper leather sole.
  • S3 - as S2 plus penetration resistant midsole and cleated outsole.

Class 2 - Natural and Synthetic Polymers:

  • S4 - basic properties, anti static and energy absorbing heel.
  • S5 - as S4 plus penetration resistant midsole and cleated outsole.

Whole Sole:

  • P - penetration resistant midsole 1100 Newtons.
  • HI - heat insulated sole.
  • CI - sole insulated against cold.
  • STC - safety toe cap.
  • WR - water resistant sole / upper juncture - leather shoes.


  • WRU - water resistant upper for leather.
  • M - metatarsal protection.


  • HRO - contact heat resistant sole to 300ºC.

Slips and Trips are becoming more common and standard EN ISO 13287 has been adopted to indicate how well a sole unit will grip in a couple of scenarios:

  • SRA - ceramic tile with 0.5% SIS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate - Soap) solution).
  • SRB - steel with 905 glycerine.
  • SRC - both of the above.


The EU standard stipulates that anti static footwear should be worn to prevent electrostatic build up and ensure it is discharged effectively. This is essential to eliminate the risk of electric shock from electrical equipment or live parts as well as those posed by sparks igniting flammable substances or vapours.

The aim is to protect those wearing safety shoes, and their colleagues, from dangers related to electrostatic build up. However, a distinction must be made between the anti static properties of shoes and their electrostatic discharge (ESD) capability.

Consequently, safety footwear which complies with the standard features an additional yellow ESD symbol. If the shoes do not feature the special ESD symbol but are labelled S1, they are generally anti static.

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Ladies PPE

A recent study found that the number of women directly employed within the construction industry reported a 20 year high and more women are now in full time employment than ever before. With more construction businesses committed to reducing the gender gap in a traditionally made dominated industry, the number of women will continue to increase and until now very few distribution businesses could offer a full PPE solution designed with ladies in mind.

We have created a full head to toe solution for female operatives which removes the potential for ill fitting personal protection equipment that could potentially result in a health and safety risk. Our offerings encompass a safety helmet that has a wheel ratchet to fit smaller head types, a narrower range of safety spectacles with differing lens configurations, a comprehensive respiratory range along with three types of small size cut level gloves. In additional, we have high visibility garments tailored to suit ladies, inclusive of RIS-3279-TOM rail specification range.

Our workwear collection has both an upper and lower body offering in a true ladies shape, with our footwear specifically designed around ladies feet. We have access to many more ladies products - Contact us for more details

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Fall Arrest Equipment

EN Standards - Harnesses


Personal protective equipment against falls from height. Full body harness suitable for work restraint and fall arrest.


Personal protective equipment for work positioning and prevention of falls from height. Belts for work positioning of falls from height. Belts for work positioning and restraint and work positioning lanyards. Encompassing side D rings on the waist belt, allowing the user to incorporate a work positioning belt. EN385 is in additional to EN361 for full body harness.


Personal protective sit harnesses. These harnesses have a padded sit harness and are suitable for working in full suspension. This includes rope access and activities such as window cleaning. It allows greater comfort for the user and has an attachment point for a descender. EN813 is in addition to EN361 for full body harness and EN358 for work positioning belts.

EN Standards - Lanyards


Personal protective lanyards. These can be made from webbing or rope and are suitable for work restraint.


Personal protective equipment against falls from height - energy absorbers. These lanyards have an energy absorbing element and are suitable for fall arrest and work restraint.


Personal protective equipment against falls from height. Guided type fall arrests including a flexible anchor line. Depending on the model, these can be used vertically or horizontally and can be used for work restraint or fall arrest.

EN Standards - Connectors

Personal protective connectors. These include karabiners, scaffold hooks and dual action hooks used for connecting to anchor points and structures.

EN Standards - Safety Helmets


Industrial safety helmets. Head protection suitable for construction site use.

BS EN 50365

Electrically insulated safety helmets for use on low voltage installations. Industrial safety helmets that can be used during electrical work.

EN Standards - Fall Arrest Blocks


Retractable type fall arrests. These blocks can be made from webbing or steel wire rope and depending on the model can be used in horizontal or vertical applications. They will engage and arrest a fall based on inertia.


Descender devices for rescue. These controlled rate descenders can be used to lower a casualty or for self-rescue from height.


Rescue lifting devices. These devices can be used to raise a casualty back to the anchor point in the event of an emergency. They are often used as a secondary device.


Guided fall arrests including a rigid anchor line. These are permanently installed systems that can be either wire, rope or rail. They include a traveller that will allow the user to ascend and descend and will lock off in the event of a fall.

CNB/P/11.062 and CNB/P/11.060-074-075

If the user weight including tools and equipment exceeds 100kg, you must be equipped with personal protective equipment against falls from height suitable for weights over 100kg. The Tractel high capacity 150kg range is tested according to the European specifications CNB/P/11.062 for more than 100kg and CNB/P/11.060-074-075 for horizontal / terrace use.

The lowest capacity component of the entire fall arrest system will determine the maximum user weight.

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