Zug, Switzerland - The workings of the European Commission are sometimes strange and mysterious and our industry has struggled to understand why when ice screws, ropes, harnesses and karabiners are all considered as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ice tools are not. Virtually all winter mountaineers would consider their ice tools as the single most important bit of safety equipment, and moreover, one upon which their lives will probably depend, so the failure of the Commission to recognise this has been difficult to understand.
Europe has a long tradition of companies producing world-class ice tools, such as DMM, Petzl Charlet, Grivel, CAMP and Edelrid and it is mainly representatives from these companies that make up the CEN (European Committee for Standardization) Technical Working Committee. This committee is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the EN 13089 standard for Mountaineering Equipment is fully up-to-date and has been arguing the case for the classification of ice tools under the PPE directive in order to provide guaranteed standards of production and with this, guaranteed safety for the user. The refusal of the Commission to accept that ice tools are PPE has held up the publication of the revised EN 13089 standard for over three years.
Given the long-standing nature of this debate, the Federation of European Sporting Goods Industries (FESI) called upon the European Outdoor Group (EOG) to intervene and to try and resolve the issue with the Commission’s Standing Committee on Personal Protective Equipment. The EOG duly submitted a technical paper on the issue and then addressed the Committee at its recent meeting in Brussels.
Representing the industry were Mark Held, secretary general of the EOG, Antonio Codega of the producers C.A.M.P. and top mountaineer Alan Hinkes. The arguments centred on the use of ice tools as belay points when correctly buried in suitable névé snow, and to demonstrate this the group showed an instructional video.
The meeting ended with the Committee accepting the EOG’s arguments and re-classifying Ice Tools as PPE Category III.Commenting on this outcome, Mark Held said, “We are delighted that this important committee has accepted our arguments and that the industry can now move forward with the right classification of ice tools. The EOG is a powerful voice for the entire outdoor sector and we are happy that we were able to resolve this issue. We trust that this result will now lead to the long awaited ratification of the revised EN 13089 standard.”
About the EOG
The European Outdoor Group is an association set up to represent the common interests of the European outdoor industry. Founded in 2003 the European Outdoor Group has 46 members, which include some of the largest brands in the world. The combined strength of the member brands, and a close cooperation with national outdoor associations, provides an extremely powerful force to represent the European outdoor industry in a constructive and positive manner. Further information about the European Outdoor Group can be found on the website:
FESI, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry, is the unique Brussels-based European platform representing the interests of some 1800 European sporting goods manufacturers before the European Institutions, other international sport federations and other associations. The EOG is a member of FESI and sits on the FESI Board of Directors. Further information about FESI can be found on the website:www.fesi-sport.org
Directives: The European Outdoor Group along with FESI has recommended that ice tools are recognised as PPE’s of Category III, and that the standard EN 13089 should be recognised as a harmonised standard in application of the directive 89/686/EEC. As a result the Standing Committee on Personal Protective Equipment has agreed on the classification of ice tolls as PPE Cat II and we now await further information on the publication of the standard.