SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 31 October 2019

Protection of Public Safety Personnel and Responders through Certification of PPE


Many organizations, including government and private sector certification organizations, worldwide have adopted ASTM standards and specifications for use in independent certification programs. As part of the standards development process, ASTM committees consider certification requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) used in emergency response and law enforcement. When certification requirements are included, an explanation of the certification process and requirements are documented in the standard or a related publication. Certification bodies verify that a product conforms to a standard through product testing and quality auditing. Formal systems are in place to examine product sample(s), conduct testing and periodic audits of the facility's quality system (or any combination thereof). Certification programs assist government agencies, users and manufacturers in meeting their mutual goal of protecting responders and in keeping with recognized standards. Because of the critical performance characteristics of PPE, and the hazardous work environments many PPE standards, for products such as hazardous materials protective ensembles and law enforcement bomb suits, include requirements for third-party certification or reference a certification requirements document. Both compliance testing and quality audits are repeated at regular intervals to maintain certification. The manufacturer submits to ongoing assessment of products and processes by third parties and agrees to recall nonconforming products. Third-party certification is an important means of ensuring the conformity of products. To ensure consistency among certification organizations and the integrity of products used to provide workers protection, some ASTM standards require the certification organizations to be accredited in accordance with International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17065. Accredited certification organizations must comply with ISO requirements that cover all operations, from laboratory management and inspection to how a certification organization protects its certification mark. Within these documents are a variety of requirements that third-party certification bodies must meet to operate as fully accredited service providers.

Author Information

Gleason, Patricia
Safety Equipment Institute, McLean, VA, US
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Developed by Committee: E54
Pages: 306–317
DOI: 10.1520/STP161420180042
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7674-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7673-7