A recent Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) survey undertaken by PPE manufacturer and supplier Seton confirmed that ensuring PPE is in good, serviceable condition is a top priority in health and safety organisations. The survey also identified key PPE problems, including substandard PPE equipment being used by some contractors.
In addition, the survey found that 39% of respondents believe that contractors are not necessarily aiming for the same safety standards as the organisation. If contractors provide their own PPE and this is substandard, the consequences could be extremely serious for both the contractor and the employer.
Despite this, a British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) reported that fake and illegal products being manufactured and sold within the PPE industry is an increasingly common problem. Many products manufactured using substandard materials have entered the market place, from gloves to high visibility vests.
As a result, I fully support plans for revisions to the current European PPE Directive to tackle the growing problem of “fake” PPE.
The problem of fake PPE was recently highlighted on the BBC1 programme Fake Britain. The programme featured builders merchant Jewson who were prosecuted for selling substandard, non-compliant fraudulently marked PPE after trading standards officers found safety helmets at its Northampton store which failed impact tests. Northampton Magistrates Court fined Jewson £14,000 in October 2013.
Commenting on the issue of fake PPE, the BSIF said it is committed to ensuring that PPE on sale in the UK meets relevant European safety standards and provides the level of protection that it claims.
To tackle this growing problem, the BSIF has created the Registered Safety Supplier scheme. Companies displaying the scheme logo have signed a binding declaration that the safety equipment they offer meets the appropriate standards, fully complies with the PPE regulations, and is appropriately CE marked.
In addition, revisions to the current European PPE Directive (89/686/EC) have been proposed. The new legislation would make retailers and distributors responsible for ensuring products they sell meet the required safety standards, rather than the responsibility falling solely on the manufacturer. It is hoped that these measures will help tackle the issue of inferior quality, counterfeit PPE in UK workplaces and protect the lives of employees.
Hayley Swift is a spokesperson for Seton