Topic outline



    Classification of PPE

    PPE is classified into three risk categories, depending on the seriousness of risks against which the PPE protects.

    Risk category

    Risks protected against

    Product examples

    Category I

    Minor risks:

    • superficial mechanical injury
    • contact with cleaning materials of weak action or prolonged contact with water
    • contact with hot surfaces not exceeding 50  C
    • damage to the eyes due to exposure to sunlight (other than during observation of the sun)
    • atmospheric conditions that are not of an extreme nature

    garden gloves, sunglasses and swimming goggles

    Category II

    Risks other than those listed in Categories I and III

    Most PPE falls into Category II. For example, head protection against shocks, pedestrian safety reflectors, dry suits, protective goggles, football players’ shin guards, ice hockey player’s protective equipment, floating vests,  anti slip devices for shoes, and PPE for private use against heat, such as oven gloves and potholders.

    Category III

    Risks that may cause very serious consequences such as death or irreversible damage to health relating to the following:

    • substances and mixtures which are hazardous to health
    • atmospheres with oxygen deficiency
    • harmful biological agents
    • ionising radiation
    • high temperatures, the effects of which are comparable to air temperature of at least 100 °C
    • low-temperature environments the effects of which are comparable to those of an air temperature of -50 °C or less
    • falling from a height
    • electric shock and live working
    • drowning
    • cuts by hand-held chainsaws
    • high-pressure jets
    • bullet wounds or knife stabs
    • harmful noise

    respiratory protective equipment, hearing protectors, life-jackets and fall protection equipment, such as harnesses, ropes and carabiners


    You can find more information on the classification of PPE from the PPE Regulation (EU 2016/425) Guidelines and the attached classification guide (20. Appendix: Guide for the categorisation of personal protective equipment (PPE)).