There is concern that a lot of the cheap personal protective equipment (PPE) that is on the market does not conform to official safety standards and will offer only limited protection – if any at all.
According to PPE supplier Slingsby, it is a growing problem and it says retailers and distributors should be held accountable. Slingsby is supporting a proposed European directive, currently in draft form, that will make those who sell PPE take responsibility to ensure that the products they sell meet the required safety standards.
Slingsby marketing director Lee Wright said: “Over the last couple of years, it’s been well-publicised that cheap, substandard, and even counterfeit PPE is finding its way into the UK. A lot of the examples we have seen are badly made and fail to offer any real protection, as well as being non-compliant with safety standards. Some products even come with falsified certifications.
“The fact that to the untrained eye, many of these products still look the part often makes it difficult to spot they are fake. This means it is important to buy PPE through reputable suppliers and to ensure it is certified to the appropriate British or European standards.
“However, new legislation currently being considered would help to eradicate counterfeit PPE by making retailers and distributors accountable for ensuring the quality of the products they sell.
“At the moment manufacturers are solely responsible for checking products comply with performance standards but a new European PPE directive, which is currently being circulated in draft form, would close a loophole that enables companies to sell substandard products without being accountable for their quality. Under the proposals, companies selling these products would have to keep records about their stock and ensure products meet required standards and this has to be welcome news for the industry.”
According to the Trades Union Congress, the rise of sub-standard PPE is partly down to kit being imported that has been made for use outside Europe where standards are lower and partly down to counterfeiting. In a July 2012 report on the subject, the TUC said: “Counterfeit PPE is on the increase, with well-established product brands or designs being the primary target. In some sectors over half the products tested were counterfeit.”
Just because a product has the letters CE stamped on it does not mean that it conforms with European norms. While it is supposed to stand for Conformité Européene it can also stand for China Export...