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Enhancing Quality: The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme 2017

20 February 2017

The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme run by the British Safety Industry Federation has been strengthened so that the Occupational Safety market in the UK can have an assurance that the Personal Protective Equipment that is provided to the workforce provides the protection that it claims.

One of the key drivers for enhancing the scheme is that, In addition to the historical existence of counterfeit CE documentation, over the last two years there has been a significant increase in reports identifying PPE which fails to deliver the performance that its certification claims. The situation may have been arrived at unwittingly but it can potentially present a risk to the user and it can destabilise the market through unfair competition.

It is difficult to quantify the exact scale of the problem but I would like to tell you that we have already seen numerous product failures within our early testing and I would also like to draw your attention to the project just completed by The UK HSL the research arm of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In this study (reference Document RR1087available on HSE’s website) 10 different brands of respiratory protective masks FFP3 or disposable masks as they are often known, were tested against the standard EN 149. Of the 10 brands tested there were numerous problems with several of the clauses however 2 of the brands had multiple failures and caused such concern to the HSE that they were put in the enforcement hands of Trading Standards to challenge the brand owners. These products, often the last line of defence to protect health, were not up to the job.

The market should also know that Trading Standards are currently running a national investigation into leather products including “work” gloves as part of their proactive responsibilities in product market surveillance. The investigation is looking for compounds hazardous to health such as Chromium VI and AZO dyes. This is the first time that this UK agency has commissioned such a project and they are due to complete the collection of samples by mid February 2017.

The BSIF is dedicated to eliminating non-compliant, unsafe, counterfeit and illegal safety products from the UK market and to providing a quality assurance scheme for the purchase of genuine PPE that will help to keep people safe and healthy at work.

The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme will play a crucial and building role in complementing safety management in the UK by improving the performance of PPE.

We are similarly dedicated to publicising to end users the opportunity and benefits of sourcing safety products from competent, capable PPE suppliers. To do that successfully and credibly the scheme needs to be stringent. The previous scheme asked for a binding declaration from scheme members committing to supplying only genuine CE marked products. It also audited the existence and availability of product CE documentation.

These commitments and conditions will be retained in the new scheme. However, the new scheme will also require the member to submit to the audit of one product per year randomly selected from their PPE offering. The audit will consist of the verification of all relevant regulatory documentation for the selected product and the testing to one or more clauses from any product performance standard to which that product is certified. The scheme auditing will be carried out as it is currently by an independent auditor and the testing will be undertaken, by scoped, UKAS accredited laboratories.

We believe that there is a genuine vulnerability in the product performance assurance process, especially in Category II PPE which often exists on the market at the end of a long supply chain supported with aged type test certification, endorsing product claims.

The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme will not focus exclusively on Category II products but unlike Category III there is no requirement for ongoing quality assurance within the current Directive or within the new Regulation, coming into effect in 2018.

The changes to the scheme are effective as of now, for current Registered Safety Supplier Scheme members and will apply directly as other BSIF members become included.

Also within the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, we will launch the Safe Supply Accreditation training programme to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) market knowledge and learning input for customer facing individuals who are operational in the UK Safety & Health Industry. There is currently no qualification requirement of any sort, for businesses to sell PPE. The Federation believes that the holding of Safe Supply Accreditation will further differentiate and signpost end users to capable suppliers. will add value for all customer-facing staff.