In May 2020 the British Standards Institute reported a surge in fake safety certificates for personal protective equipment (PPE). As the demand for Covid related PPE grew, ‘opportunists’ latched on to the panic and began cashing in on the high market demand for essential items required by front line workers. Fakes flooded the marketplace however the desire for fast cash hasn’t stopped.
The national standards body has revealed a sharp increase in the number of false PPE documents in circulation, mainly for disposable face masks but worryingly also across varying ranges of gloves, protective coveralls and eyewear protection. So much so, that officials have warned businesses buying PPE to verify that certificates are genuine before parting with any cash.
Shahm Barhom, Group Product Certification Director at the British Safety Industry (BSI), which is appointed by the UK Government as the national standards body, said: “We’re urging anyone who is purchasing personal protective equipment to be vigilant, particularly given the increased need we’re seeing at present.”
“If the safety equipment that is being purchased is supported by a certificate that appears to have been issued by BSI, we strongly recommend checking its validity first.”
As a registered member of The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, Clad Safety thoroughly supports this view. The company has strict compliance procedures in place and ensures that all of its products are supported by a Declaration of Conformity certificate – a formal declaration by the manufacturer that ‘the product meets all relevant requirements of all product safety directives applicable to that product’.
The scheme, originally created to combat the quantity of non-approved PPE products being sold into the UK, has identified that a number of items claiming CE approvals have not been properly certified. Some are, in fact, counterfeits of existing products, which outside of not performing as they should can actually put lives at risk and expose the user to prosecution.
All PPE sold within the UK needs to be certified and there are stringent laws in place to ensure its safety and quality. By definition PPE is designed to “protect the wearer” and as such is covered by EU Regulation 2016/425. This sets out the “essential requirements” which must be met by manufacturers before PPE can be placed on the UK market. Products go through a conformity assessment to demonstrate compliance and this is carried out by a notified body, such as the BSI. Once the assessment is complete, the manufacturer can display the CE mark.
Those breaching the legislation face fines and prison terms of up to three months in the most serious cases under The Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018.
The BSI has reported the issue to European regulators and law enforcement agencies, including Trading Standards in the UK, which investigates complaints of this nature.
The Health and Safety Executive, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, said the unprecedented global demand for PPE meant products were being sourced from new suppliers. Rick Brunt, Head of Operational Strategy, explained “For PPE to be effective and provide protection to the worker though, it’s not just a question of supply.
“It must also be suitable for the task in hand and we need to be assured that protective equipment will actually protect people. Our advice is grounded in science and experience, not just our understanding of the regulations. We want to ensure that any PPE destined for our workers, regardless of its provenance, is appropriately tested so that we know it will serve its purpose. This will not only save money in the long-term but also provide reassurance that products you are buying are providing the right level of protection.”
Companies that are listed under the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme have signed a binding declaration that the safety equipment they offer meets the appropriate standards, fully complies with PPE regulations and is appropriately CE marked. For further information or to access Clad Safety’s listing please refer to the following link: https://www.bsif.co.uk/find-a-member/
Clad Safety has been operating for over 30 years and takes pride in the excellent service that we offer to our customers. Our product range, combined with expert technical advice allows us to offer valuable workwear solutions. For further information or to find out more on how Clad Safety can support your workwear and PPE needs please contact our Customer Service Team on 0800 161 3661 or email [email protected].