Collective protective equipment (CPE)

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    The following shall be considered as collective protective equipment

    Any protective equipment intended to protect the worker against one or more hazards likely to threaten his safety or health at work, as well as any complement or accessory intended for this purpose, and which simultaneously meets the following characteristics:

    1. it shall be designed and installed in such a way as to act as directly as possible on the source of the risk in order to reduce that risk to a minimum;
    2. it is intended to be installed prior to the performance of the work;
    3. it is such that the worker does not have to intervene actively to ensure his safety and health at work.

    For a more detailed explanation of these conditions, visit our website.

    CPE that are part of work equipment are considered to be work equipment (see work equipment).

    Choice of CPE  

    CPE must

    1. be appropriate to the risks to be prevented, by not constituting a hazard themselves, by not inducing a new hazard or by not increasing the existing risk;
    2. be adapted to the workstation.

    The employer shall identify the hazards which cannot be eliminated by technical or organisational measures, so that the use of CPE is necessary. On the basis of the identified hazards, the employer shall carry out a risk definition and determination in order to assess the risks. The risk analysis must enable the employer to apply the most appropriate collective protection measures to protect workers against these risks.

    On the basis of the results of the risk analysis, the employer shall determine the characteristics that the CPE must have in order to protect workers against the risks, taking into account any hazards that the CPE may constitute in itself. He shall determine the conditions under which the CPE must be used, taking into account the severity of the damage, the frequency of exposure and the duration of exposure to the hazards.

    When carrying out the risk analysis and determining the conditions of use, the employer shall seek the advice of the prevention advisor competent in occupational safety, as well as that of the prevention advisor/occupational physician responsible for the workers’ health surveillance.

    List of activities and work circumstances requiring the provision of CPE

    Certain CPE are mandatory for certain work circumstances defined in the legislation (Annex IX.1-2 of the Code):

    1. Where workers are exposed to a fall of more than 2 m, work and circulation areas are equipped with the following collective protective equipment:
      1. either guardrails with intermediate rails and a toe board joining the floor;
      2. or solid or mesh panels;
      3. or any other device offering equivalent safety.
      Such collective protective equipment may be interrupted only at the point of access to a ladder.
    2. The top rail of a guardrail shall be located between 1 m and 1.2 m above the work and traffic areas. Between the top rail and the toe board there is an intermediate rail, situated between 40 and 50 cm above the working or traffic area. The toe board is at least 15 cm high.
    3. Solid or mesh panels shall be at least 1 m high and shall be as safe as the protective device described in point 2.
    4. The height of the protection below the traffic or work area may be reduced to 70 cm when it consists of:
      1. a wall whose height and thickness add up to 1.3 m or more;
      2. the spandrel of a window opening when the width of the opening is less than or equal to 2 m.
    5. Except in the case of welded, riveted or bolted metal components, rails, skirting boards and panels shall be attached to the interior side of their support.
    6. Where parts of a structure are not delivered to the worksite and access to them presents hazards to workers, such parts shall be marked with general hazard warning signs in accordance with the provisions concerning occupational safety and health signs and shall be adequately delineated by physical means. These physical features shall prevent inadvertent access to these parts of the construction.
    7. If these devices are not located at a distance of at least 1.5 m from the void, they shall meet the conditions laid down for the protective devices referred to in points 2 and 3.
    8. Where the performance of special work requires the temporary removal of a fall prevention device, effective compensatory safety measures, such as return guardrails or panels, movable guardrails or panels, handholds, safety belts or any other means, shall be taken to prevent the fall of workers, equipment or materials.


    All CPE must be installed in accordance with the supplier's instruction manual.

    CPE whose safety depends on the conditions of installation shall be inspected after installation and before being put into service, and after each assembly at a new site or location, to ensure that it is correctly installed and functions properly. The employer shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the assembly and dismantling of CPE can be carried out safely.


    CPE may only be used for the purpose for which they were designed and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Whenever a CPE is made available, the employer shall ensure that the CPE is not taken out of service, moved, modified or damaged.

    Maintenance and inspection

    The employer shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the CPE is kept, through periodic maintenance and inspection, at a level which ensures that it complies with the provisions applicable to it throughout its use.

    Such maintenance and inspection shall be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, which shall be set out in the instruction manual.

    The employer shall ensure that exceptional checks are carried out whenever exceptional events have occurred which result or may result in the CPE no longer meeting the legal requirements. Exceptional circumstances include alterations, accidents, natural phenomena and prolonged periods of non-use.

    The inspections are carried out by competent persons, either internal or external to the company or institution. The results of these inspections shall be recorded and kept at the disposal of the well-being inspection. They shall be kept for an appropriate period.
    Where the CPE concerned is used outside the enterprise, it should be accompanied by physical evidence that the last inspection was carried out.
    For a number of CPE, inspections are carried out on a mandatory basis by an external service for technical inspection authorised for the inspection concerned. Account may be taken of organisational structures abroad that are equivalent to Belgian structures. A foreign employer must therefore call on an ESTI authorised in Belgium unless he can prove that he can call on an equivalent service that meets the same conditions as the Belgian one and that can ensure that he complies with Belgian legal obligations.

    The content of these inspections and their periodicity are determined by the specific provisions applying to these CPE which may be provided by the manufacturer following the employer's requests formulated in the order form.

    Worker information and training

    The employer shall take the necessary measures to ensure that workers are provided with adequate information and, where appropriate, instructions, the aim of which shall be to ensure that workers have all the knowledge required for the proper use of CPE.

    This information and these instructions shall contain at least:

    1. the conditions under which the CPE must be used;
    2. the foreseeable abnormal situations that may occur;
    3. the conclusions to be drawn from any experience gained in the use of CPE.

    This information and these instructions must be comprehensible to the workers concerned.

    There shall be written instructions for each CPE which are necessary for :

    1. its installation;
    2. its use;
    3. its maintenance;
    4. its inspection and control.

    They shall be signed by the prevention advisor responsible for the management of the internal service or, as the case may be, the department of the internal service.

    More information

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