May 24th, 2016 11:05 am ET - Judi Coyne, MBA, MA and Maryann M. D’Alessandro, PhD
“When you purchase a product, you expect it to work. Construction workers on high-rise buildings need to be confident that their safety harnesses will protect them in a fall. Firefighters need to know that their gloves and other protective equipment can withstand high temperatures. Healthcare workers administering highly toxic chemotherapy agents need to know that their gloves will withstand penetration.” [H. Cohen and C. Liverman, Editors, Certifying Personal Protective Technologies Improving Worker Safety, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2011].
How do you know if your personal protective equipment (PPE) will protect you or your workers? To help employers, users of PPE, and others determine which PPE standards must be met by their equipment, NIOSH in collaboration with key partners including the International Safety Equipment Association, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Mine Safety and Health Administration and other members of the PPE Conformity Assessment Working Groupdeveloped the PPE-INFO database.
This newly developed database is currently available at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/ppeinfo. NIOSH continues to actively improve the database to address user feedback. If you have comments after visiting the website, please use the comment box below to provide feedback.
A 2011 Institute of Medicine report indicated that the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory has a unique role to play as the nation’s focal point for occupational PPE. Among the IOM’s recommendations and observations was the acknowledgment that “more information on the extent and nature of [PPE] use in the workplace would inform improvements in both personal protective products and their use.” To achieve this, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory become the primary clearinghouse for reliable information on non-respirator PPE as well as respirators.
The database serves as a compilation of Federal regulations and consensus standards for respirator and non-respiratory PPE. The standards information was obtained from U.S. Government Agencies and consensus standards organizations. The database is a tool for standards developers, certification organizations, manufacturers, purchasers, end users, safety and health professional and researchers. The information in the database can be used to determine whether a product meets a certain standard and if the performance requirements of that standard meet their need. For example, if you are looking for gloves to protect against vibration and typed “anti-vibration gloves” in the search box, you will receive a list of standards covering that product.
In the next phase, we expect to expand the database to include more comprehensive international and conformity assessment standards for PPE and products that conform to the standards.
Judi Coyne, MBA, MA, is a Health Communication Specialist in the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.
Maryann M. D’Alessandro, PhD, is the Director of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.
 This is a diverse working group of NIOSH partners established in 2011 to address PPE conformity assessment for the nation.
 Conformity assessment is defined as “Demonstration that specified requirements relating to a product, process, system, person or body are fulfilled” ISO/IEC 17000:2004 Conformity Assessment Vocabulary and General Principles