NIOSH Publishes National Framework for PPE Conformity Assessment

Published November 21, 2017

​A new framework published by NIOSH is intended to provide a risk-based, evidence-driven approach to conformity assessment programs for occupational personal protective equipment. According to NIOSH, conformity assessment is the demonstration that a product meets specified requirements and is the “vital link” between these requirements and the products themselves. The new document, which is the first in a series to support the agency’s National Framework for Conformity Assessment of PPE, outlines five steps that link the elements of the hierarchy of controls with those of conformity assessment. NIOSH intends to publish additional documents related to the development, implementation, and use of conformity assessment programs for PPE.

“Workers are more likely to appropriately use PPE when they are confident that the equipment will provide the intended protections based on its conformance with appropriate standards,” NIOSH says. “A comprehensive and tailor-made conformity assessment program is the most effective way to manage risks of a non-conforming PPE and instill this confidence in PPE users.”

NIOSH representatives and a cross-section of members of the PPE community worked together to identify and analyze national and international conformity assessment programs and requirements, and to examine injury and enforcement surveillance databases. The group also researched and gathered PPE standards, and developed a risk-based approach to conformity assessment that resulted in NIOSH’s framework. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine provided further recommendations.

To support the new framework and facilitate its use, NIOSH intends to lead the development and incorporation of scientific input into PPE standards.

More information is available on NIOSH’s website.