Consumer products that resemble personal protective equipment


Personal protective equipment, such as respiratory or hearing protectors, is intended to protect the user against a hazard. Personal protective equipment on the market must comply with European safety regulations. Protective equipment is governed by the Personal Protective Equipment Directive (89/686/EEC), which has been brought into force in Finland by the Government decision on personal protective equipment (1406/1993).


You should, however, be aware that consumer products that resemble personal protective equipment but do not offer the appropriate protective qualities required of personal protective equipment have been found on the market. These include a headphone radio that looks like a hearing protector but does not meet the requirements set for hearing protectors. Consumers have also been sold hygiene masks that resemble respiratory protectors but do not have the protective qualities required of respiratory protectors.


Consumer products that resemble personal protective equipment are problematic for the consumer because they can be confused with personal protective equipment. You may find it difficult to tell these products apart because they may look very similar and be sold next to each other at retail outlets such as hardware stores. Your life or health may be at risk if you use a product that resembles personal protective equipment in conditions that call for the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.


Products that may be confused with personal protective equipment should not be sold to consumers at all


If products that resemble personal protective equipment − although intended for purposes other than protecting the user − are, however, sold to consumers, the package labelling and sales personnel must clearly inform the consumer about the following issues: 

  • the fact that the product is not personal protective equipment;
  • the product's intended use (other than protecting the user against hazards);
  • a warning that the product does not in any way protect the user and that the product must not be used in conditions that require the use of personal protective equipment.
  • The product may not carry the CE marking.

In addition to the above information, the data required by the Government decree on information to be supplied in respect of consumer goods and services (613/2004) must be provided about such products.


You should always make sure you find out if a task such as a renovation project calls for the use of personal protective equipment. If a task requires the use of protective equipment, you should check the user instructions for what the product will protect you against and whether the level of protection is sufficient. Personal protective equipment must always come with clear user instructions in Finnish and Swedish, specifying its protective qualities. The product must also carry the CE marking.