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Most PPE Still Failing Basic Safety and Regulation Criteria, New Report Shows

PPE is still failing to meet the most basic legal safety and regulation criteria after a study showed 79% of items spot-checked did not meet standards.

BSIF CEO Alan Murray said an investigation found just 21% of the 123 items spot-sourced between December 2022 and December 2023 passed – and others could be putting lives at risk. The research was carried out by the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) on non-member companies.

One of the tests was for flame spreading, and the Flame Retardant Parka bought from an online retailer saw the outer layer burnt through, exposing the inner layer, which then caught fire, resulting in the entire coat being consumed by flames. The garment also lacked mandatory documentation and markings in line with PPE Regulation requirements.

A pair of safety glasses bought from a high street retailer failed impact resistance testing, had no CE markings – or equivalent – and was missing essential documentation.

“Due diligence is vital” BSIF CEO Alan Murray said this shows that there is a pressing need for greater competency in the procurement of PPE.

He said: “Unfortunately, the longstanding issue of neglecting rules in the procurement of PPE is nothing new. The volume of substandard and non-compliant products on the market is showing no signs of abating.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic shone a light on this critical issue, it is still an enormous problem. The BSIF advocates for enhanced proficiency in PPE procurement, aiming not only to elevate safety standards significantly but also to prevent potential future crises.

“Due diligence is vital. Buyers must assess the extent to which a product is fit for purpose. They should also look for wearer benefits above and beyond basic protection and make sure it fits comfortably so that it performs correctly. They must also determine whether it is compatible with other PPE that may be required. Yet many people responsible for PPE procurement are not fully aware of their responsibilities or lack the resources to fulfil them.

“The consequences of negligence extend far beyond financial losses. They manifest in the form of devastating injuries, irreparable harm, and broken trust.”

Under the PPE at work regulations, anyone in charge of buying PPE and safety equipment has a responsibility to select appropriate, certified, and compliant products that meet workers’ specific requirements. The latest financial disclosures from the Department of Health and Social Care revealed nearly £10 billion was wasted on defective or unusable PPE during the pandemic.

There is also an ongoing investigation into the procurement of PPE contracts, with the National Audit Office trying to recover millions lost to fraud.

The BSIF runs the BSIF Registered Safety Supplier Scheme to provide buyers with assurance that the products they are buying are coming from a compliant, competent, and trustworthy supplier. Among BSIF member testing, there was a 91% compliance rate.

Source: BSIF Page

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