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BSIF highlights risks of non-compliant personal protective equipment in the UK

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Alarming rate of non-compliance discovered

The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has issued a stark warning regarding the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety products.

Their latest tests on products from non-member companies have uncovered a disturbing prevalence of substandard and potentially dangerous items.

During a year-long investigation from December 2022 to December 2023, the BSIF scrutinised 123 non-member products for advertised performance, marking adequacy, and compliance with standards.

Shockingly, a mere 21%—26 products—met full compliance criteria, leaving an overwhelming 79%, or 97 products, failing to meet the required testing standards.

Many of these deficient products are alarmingly still available for purchase and use, posing grave risks to users.

Examples of product failures highlight risks

Among the non-compliant products were a Flame Retardant Parka and a pair of safety boots purchased from an online retailer, both of which failed critical safety tests.

The parka’s outer layer was consumed by flames during flame spread testing due to inadequate protection, while the safety boots failed toe cap compression tests and were found to be over ten years old with outdated certification.

Additionally, a pair of safety spectacles from a high street retailer failed impact resistance tests, with lenses cracking or breaking upon impact.

Despite assurances to remove these products from sale, they remained available, further compounding the risk to consumers.

Similarly, three pairs of protective gloves and a Respiratory Protective Mask (FFP3) failed to meet their advertised performance levels and lacked the required documentation and correct markings, with sellers failing to act responsibly upon notification.

BSIF member products demonstrate high personal protective equipment compliance rates

Contrasting sharply with these findings, products supplied by BSIF Registered Safety Suppliers showed a significantly higher rate of compliance.

Of the 348 products tested from Registered Safety Suppliers within the same period, an impressive 91%—315 products—passed the tests on their first attempt.

For the remaining 9% that initially did not meet the standards, all issues were quickly identified and rectified, underscoring the commitment of BSIF members to selling certified PPE and conducting business with integrity and ethical standards.

Alan Murray, CEO of the BSIF, commented on the findings: “Our latest test results show that you don’t have to look very far to find examples of inadequate and substandard PPE and safety equipment for sale in the UK.

Shockingly, many unsuspecting users are relying on these compromised products for their safety.

Buyers and specifiers must urgently review their procurement processes and consider what assurances they have that the PPE and safety equipment they are being supplied with is fit for purpose.

Checking for the BSIF Registered Safety Supplier shield is the easiest way to ensure you only deal with compliant, competent, and trustworthy suppliers.

Remember, anyone can sell safety, but you shouldn’t buy safety from just anyone; always check for the shield.”

IFSJ Comment

The findings from the British Safety Industry Federation reveal a concerning landscape within the PPE market, where a significant proportion of products fail to meet safety standards.

This situation underscores the critical importance of due diligence in the procurement processes for safety equipment.

The BSIF’s efforts to illuminate these issues serve as a vital reminder for all stakeholders in the safety industry to prioritise compliance and reliability above all.

The stark contrast in compliance rates between non-member products and those supplied by Registered Safety Suppliers highlights the value of the BSIF Shield as a mark of credibility and assurance in the PPE marketplace.

It is essential for buyers and end-users to seek out this mark of quality to safeguard against the use of inadequate and dangerous products.

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