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Let’s get rid of substandard safety equipment

Author : Paul Gay

03 November 2009

The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) should be commended for its firm commitment to eliminate counterfeit and illegal products from the hazardous area market place. Discussions between BSIF, the department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services and the HSE have identified a mutual desire to ensure that unsafe products are eliminated from the UK market.

Make sure you check for counterfeits
Make sure you check for counterfeits

Substandard safety products and personal protective equipment (PPE) cause significant problems and must be eradicated. BSIF has received a number of reports of products not performing to the standards being claimed, equipment with falsified CE certificates and cheap copies of propriety PPE which appear not to have been subjected to the requirement for them to be independently tested.

Within its counterfeit and illegal products campaign, the BSIF has launched its Registered Safety Supplier Scheme that is designed to assist buyers of safety critical products find quality supply sources. Participants are able to use the scheme shield if they qualify adhering to astrict set of criteria, to identify their organisation and products as genuine and safe. Any company which does not comply risks losing its Registered Safety Supplier shield and possibly, membership of the BSIF.

Companies joining this initiative will give users of personal protective equipment (PPE) greater re-assurance and send a clear signal tothose who sell or produce counterfeit and illegal products, that there is no place for these in the UK market. With a market that is increasingly being impacted with counterfeit and illegal products, purchasing vigilance isessential to protect people at work.

The main concern is that those responsible for procuring and deploying safety equipment may be unable to distinguish counterfeit and non-conforming PPE from the genuine article. Frequently the product performs badly, is incorrectly CE marked and does not meet the standard’s performance claims. But the wearer or user of the product will almost certainly be unaware of any problems until it is too late.

If a product is unusually cheap, has an unknown brand name, does not state performance or has the name of an unknown manufacturer, it should trigger further investigation. It is relatively easy to check whether the product is genuine and therefore safe to use.

If there is any doubt, contact BSIF who will explain how to go about it. Fake products may be of debatable consequence in many aspects of life but when it comes to the workplace, poor protection can actually put health and, ultimately, lives at risk. 

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