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The BSIF Registered Supplier Scheme

06 December 2022

BSIF CEO Alan Murray explains how the BSIF has been working to raise the profile of the Registered Safety Supplier (RSS) scheme in 2022 and shares what’s on the cards for 2023.

REGULAR READERS of the BSIF Guide will be aware of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme. RSS is the BSIF’s flagship verification scheme that provides those specifying PPE and safety equipment with reassurance that the products they are buying are from a supplier who takes their responsibilities as a vendor of PPE and safety equipment seriously. 

Why is the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme needed? 

Unfortunately, not all buyers and specifiers of PPE understand that they have a responsibility to ensure the products they buy are properly certified and approved. Even those who are aware of their responsibilities will rarely have the knowledge and resources to validate suppliers’ claims. Checking for the BSIF Shield, which shows your supplier is a Registered Safety Supplier, is therefore the easiest way to ensure that your vendor complies with the relevant rules.

Companies displaying the BSIF shield are audited annually to ensure they comply with obligations and responsibilities of the legislation and have signed a binding declaration that the PPE and safety equipment they offer meets the correct standards, fully complies with the regulations and is UKCA and or CE certified. This means that by using a Registered Safety Supplier you can be confident you will receive genuine products that are fit for purpose as well as genuine “information, support and guidance”.

Not all PPE and safety products are created equal 

The reality is that not all safety products currently for sale are created equal. For example, the law states that PPE must be correctly tested and certified to comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations, but not every supplier of PPE follows the rules. 

A lack of market surveillance and enforcement in the UK means it can be difficult to distinguish responsible suppliers from less responsible ones. This has led to an increase in the quantity of substandard products for sale.

Employers must ensure that they only provide fully compliant PPE for their workforce otherwise they will be contravening safety legislation. A number of items are available that claim UKCA and or CE approvals but, in reality, they have not all been appropriately tested and certified. In our experience these products often do not perform as they should, putting lives at risk and, in doing so, exposing businesses and individuals to prosecution for failing to protect staff.

In the period June 2021 to May 2022, we sourced, assessed and tested 160 products outside of BSIF Members, 144 of which either didn’t pass the testing or did not have compliant markings or supporting documentation. This represents an 89% failure rate.

Of particular concern was the head protection and protective clothing categories where none of the products that were tested were compliant. Meanwhile, out of 36 items of RPE that were tested just four of these products were fully compliant which means 88% of the non-BSIF member RPE products we tested were non-compliant. 

Just a few examples of substandard products we have come across for sale in 2022 include: 

• An ‘indestructible safety trainer’ that failed the midsole penetration test. 

• ‘Cut-resistant gloves’ that didn’t pass the relevant cut test 

• A 'safety harness & lanyard’ provided without any user instructions or documentation

Benefits of specifying a Registered Safety Supplier

Verifying that your supplier is a Registered Safety Supplier gives you reassurance that the necessary checks have been performed and you know your supplier is committed to high standards. Members of the RSS scheme must fulfil the following criteria in order to gain admittance and carry the shield: 

• Sell only certified PPE 

  • Meet all responsibilities of the PPE Regulations 

  • Submit their products for random independent performance testing 

  • Train public facing staff in the BSIF’s Safe Supply Course (a publicly recognised qualification to educate those selling PPE and safety products)

  • Maintain a quality policy

  • Hold necessary authorisation for service provision

  • Have the capability to carry out any necessary product recalls and trade honestly and ethically.

All Registered Safety Suppliers are audited to confirm compliance with the scheme’s requirements. A full list of registered suppliers is available to view at https://www.bsif.co.uk/rsss/        

Who specifies the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme?

The BSIF team has been working hard in recent years to raise the profile of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme and to encourage businesses and organisations to include the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme within their prequalification criteria. Happily, several public and private sector organisations now insist on only using Registered Safety Suppliers when procuring PPE and safety products. 

While this is pleasing progress, we would like to see even more organisations engage with the scheme. Our vision is for the BSIF Shield to be the first qualification buyers and specifiers look for when sourcing PPE and safety equipment. 

In 2022, the BSIF has been working further to publicise the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme and to promote responsible PPE and safety product procurement via a number of measures:

– The launch of our CHECK-SELECT-PROTECT campaign in October 2022 urging those specifying PPE and safety equipment to always check their vendor is a Registered Safety Supplier (see infographic) 

  • Distribution of an associated press release and magazine articles

  • The launch of our video “What you need to know when buying PPE & Safety Equipment” 

  • The creation of a range of a resources for members and end users including infographics, banners and further video content (include examples) 

  • Member and end user interviews

  • Social Media activity 

Throughout 2023 we will be building on these efforts, continuing our market research and using our findings to expand our range of resources, articles and awareness work. If you are interested in taking part in our market research and sharing your views, as a buyer or seller of PPE and safety equipment, please email georgina@blackthorn-media.co.uk

For more information, visit www.bsif.co.uk