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What’s the Difference Between CE and UKCA Markings?

What’s the Difference Between CE and UKCA Markings?

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that PPE compliance is a topic that we regularly discuss. And by now, most business leaders will understand that any personal protective equipment provided to employees must be manufactured in a way that ensures the clothing will offer wearers the necessary protection needed for them to carry out their tasks safely. Until recently, that meant looking for a CE mark.

A CE mark is featured on clothing tags (or on packaging where it cannot reasonably be attached to the clothing itself) and confirms that the item has been manufactured in accordance with all relevant health and safety standards. Typically, if an item failed to display a CE mark, it would mean that the clothing had failed to meet the strict criteria necessary to be considered a high quality product. 

However, in the post-Brexit landscape, the situation isn’t quite as straightforward. Today, across England, Wales, and Scotland, it is no longer necessary for workwear to hold the CE marking… but it will need to have a UKCA marking in its place. 

So, what's the difference?

  • A CE mark is a ‘Conformite Europeenne’ mark, or ‘European Conformity’ mark. It is a legal requirement for most products that are marketed and sold across the European Union and shows that the product has met all necessary EU health and safety requirements. Previously, as an EU member state, products marketed and sold in Britain were subject to these same rules. 
  • A UKCA mark is the post-Brexit British equivalent of the CE mark. It stands for ‘UK Conformity Assessed’ and means that products that hold this mark have met health and safety standards in Great Britain. While the UKCA mark doesn’t cover everything, it does cover most products that previously required the CE marking, including clothing, workwear, footwear, and PPE. 

Are the two the same thing? At the moment, yes. That’s because, while Britain has created its own mark, it is so far in name only, and the same standards still apply. Should the EU change their rules, or should the rules in Britain change, then the two markings will differ in their meaning, and in how they refer to safety and quality. 

What Mark Does My PPE Need?

While the UKCA marking was introduced on 1st January 2021, it is being used alongside the European CE marking until 1st January 2023. So for now, either a CE marking or a UKCA marking is absolutely fine. From 2023, products marketed and sold in Britain will require, by law, the UKCA mark, so always be sure to look for UKCA PPE when purchasing new workwear. In some cases, PPE may carry both marks simultaneously, if they are being sold both in the UK, and across the European Union. 

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