The European Outdoor Group has managed to convince the European Commission that ice tools should be considered personal protective equipment (PPE). For unknown reasons, the Commission had refused to accept ice tools as PPE for more than three years. The refusal led to a postponed revision of the EN 13089 standard for mountaineering equipment.

The success is due to representatives of brands such as DMM, Petzl Charlet, Grivel, Camp and Edelrid, which are members of the technical working committee of CEN, the European committee for standardization. The Commission was finally convinced that the industry and the consumers badly need to have ice tools as a PPE after hearing arguments from Mark Held, the secretary general of the EOG; Antonio Codega of Camp, the Italian manufacturer; and Alan Hinkes, a professional mountaineer.

Held told The Compass that the Commission’s approval was necessary in two senses: First, the debate on ice tools blocked the necessary update of the entire EN 13089 standard. Second, the Commission's decision was essential to guarantee that consumers can rely on the quality of the products that fulfill the requirements of the PPE standards. Held explained that there had been quality problems with ice screws from Eastern Europe, particularly from Russia.

EOG sees its lobbying work as a success both for consumer safety and for the industry, as the market is now protected from low-quality and low-price goods.

Held said all the brands concerned supported the move to recognize ice tools as a product under the PPE directive. A couple of years ago, such a common initiative would have been difficult to achieve because manufacturers were afraid of the extra costs and bureaucracy that came along with the testing and the registration of equipment as PPE products.

Codega of Camp emphasized that the lobby work was a joint effort of all the major manufacturers. He does not expect additional costs or bureaucratic paperwork as every good company has to manufacture safe products and has to meet the safety requirements of the international UIAA standard anyway.

Ice tools now are recognized as so-called PPE Category III, which is the strictest classification possible, requiring that the products as well as the manufacturing facilities have certification. Category II is limited to the product alone, while the requirements of the first category are fulfilled if the manufacturer writes a confirmation that its product meets the safety standards.