Industrial Compliance magazine takes a look at the latest developments from the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) with regards to increasing the safety of PPE within the UK
An important recent announcement from BSIF came in June this year with the news that it was joining forces with the Reflective Equipment Manufacturers Association (REMA) to help combat illegal personal protective equipment (PPE) entering the UK market place.
Over the past few years both organisations have become increasingly concerned over the quantity of PPE (high visibility garments being a major problem) being purchased and issued for occupational use without complying with appropriate EN standards and the PPE Regulations 2002 (embodying European Directive 89/686/EEC). Unfortunately this serious problem is twofold – some products and garments do not purport to meet the requirements of the regulations but are nevertheless purchased in the mistaken belief that they are acceptable. And secondly, they are sold as complying with the regulations when they do not.
This mutual problem has been the catalyst for an ongoing joint campaign between both parties. Whilst there may not be a ‘quick fix’ to the problem, both the BSIF and REMA agreed that this situation is unacceptable, and are therefore combining their efforts and resources in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers posed by sub-standard products with as many specifying and purchasing organisations and individuals as possible.
David Lummis, chief executive officer of the BSIF, commented, “Unfortunately illegal PPE is continuing to be an unwelcome visitor in the workplace. Over recent years, a plethora of items have entered the market place, from gloves to high visibility vests, which have been produced using sub-standard materials. Often these products are finished to a standard such that, to the untrained eye, it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify that they are fake.
“The BSIF is delighted to have joined forces with REMA – this collaborative campaign will help further educate end users regarding the risks of illegal PPE and encourage organisations to be vigilant when purchasing and using PPE.”
Additionally, REMA has produced guidance to purchasers of high visibility garments. These are downloadable from the publications section of REMA’s website – www.rema.org.uk.
Also in June, BSIF, along with one of its members, Centurion Safety Products, contributed to the BBC programme, Fake Britain, which included an investigation into the devastating impact counterfeit and illegal personal protective equipment (PPE) can have on the workforce.
On the programme Lummis discussed the different forms counterfeit items can take and the impact they have on society. Lummis was able to once again reinforce the message that it is pivotal that genuine and legal PPE is used to ensure workers’ health and safety.
Centurion Safety Products demonstrated the difference between a genuine and counterfeit safety helmet and the results from the test created a stark visual impact.
Lummis commented, “We are delighted that the issue of counterfeit and illegal PPE has been addressed on a national basis, it is a serious concern for our industry. We are campaigning hard to raise awareness of the issue to end users through our Registered Safety Supplier Scheme.”
This scheme was created to help signpost purchasers of PPE to safety experienced and ethical companies that will work to provide equipment that ‘does what it says on the tin’. By opting to purchase equipment from a Registered Safety Supplier, purchasers will be safe in the knowledge that they are buying genuine legal products from suppliers who can provide good advice.
Members of the scheme identify themselves as having made a formal declaration that they are selling only products that are genuine and legal.
The new PPE Directive
Over the past few months BSIF has also gathered the opinions of its members to provide feedback for the consultation period of the new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive that is set to have a wide range of implications for the supply of PPE.
The PPE Directive is a fundamental piece of European legislation relating to occupational safety throughout Europe. It has a large impact on the sale of PPE and directs many of the requirements of supplying this equipment to the UK market. The directive is currently under review and the general principles of the revision have been agreed upon at an international level across the EU. Before the final drafting was undertaken, there was a period of consultation which closed on the 14th June.
Lummis commented, “We have carried out a wide consultation process to gather our members’ opinions. Many of the important principles have been trialled and discussed within the BSIF and with responses to the consultation, it is apparent that there is much consensus among BSIF members. By gathering a collective response, the federation can gain maximum ‘weight’ for its position with the EU Commission.
“After all, this consultation refers to legislation changes, extending the scope of responsibilities deeper across the supply chain to distributors, agents and traders, and time limiting EC-type examination certificates and redefining/reclassifying product types to potentially bring them within the scope of the directive or redefine their classification.
“The Federation believes that the current PPE Directive is in need of an update as the enforcement is not consistent throughout the EU, language translational problems exist within areas such as chemical clothing, and it lacks the all important market depth due to its application to only manufacturers. There is a real need to re-classify some products and simplify its descriptions. At present it feels like the PPE Directive is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The new directive will hopefully address this matter and offer an all inclusive piece of legislation.”
With the consultation period now over, the timetable set out by the EU anticipates that the new PPE Directive will be in force by 2014, with the final version available from Spring 2012.