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From the CEO's desk - December 19

09 December 2019

As 2019 comes to an end, Alan Murray takes this opportunity to look back at what's been happening in the health and safety industry.

AS WE reach the close of 2019 it is the right time to look back on the year just gone. This year has seen our, on – off departure from the EU almost blocking out the sun, as we attempt to prepare contingencies in the event of an “no deal”. Despite all this however, now in our 25th anniversary year, the BSIF membership has passed the 300 barrier. This is really great news for the market with more suppliers able to demonstrate quality and capability through being members of the Federation and the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme. 

The Federation terms and conditions require that members submit PPE and safety products for independent testing, educate their customer facing staff and be able to demonstrate that they fulfil the obligations and responsibilities required under the PPE law. The BSIF is, along with the cooperation of the membership, transforming the quality and capability in the market, delivering a safer working environment in the UK.

Product audits

Since march 2019 the BSIF has undertaken 102 product tests across all types of PPE and we have seen a failure rate of 11%. On its own a concern, but in each case the supplier has had the chance to react and make good the non - compliances found. This ensures that non-compliant products ae removed and safety improved. The Federation has also conducted product tests in non - member suppliers which show a much higher failure rate. Again corrective again is underway. 
Only BSIF is undertaking proactive market surveillance.


The Safe Supply Accreditation qualification now has over 350 participants at various stages of the training and education programme. In all cases the candidates have benefitted from an education package covering, Legal Essentials – Managing Safety – CE Marking and how the Market is Policed.

Response has been tremendous and capability and the confidence levels of those involved has increased dramatically.

Responsibilities and obligations

The PPE Regulation, the law, requires that economic operators operators fulfil their “Obligations and Responsibilities. BSIF within the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, audits that these are being adhered to. No other body carries this out, so again the Federation is providing quality assurance within the safety supply chain. What should be noted of course is that, there are business who sell safety products and PPE as non core items. They often do not see themselves as being part of the safety industry, claiming that the regulations don’t really apply to them. They absolutely do, and we have been reaching out and helping to educate those in the MRO, Auto Aftercare and laundering market to help them comply.

Another outreach effort that the Federation has undertaken is helping those in the motorcycling industry to appreciate that the law also applies to them. Since April 2018 Motorcycle Clothing has been included in the scope of EU 2016/425. Whether through ignorance or design the Motorcycle Clothing Industry were very slow to do the necessary work to comply. This industry is not the natural home for BSIF but we have been working hard to help them understand what they have to do. We created a list of frequently asked questions both for suppliers and consumers to help them.

So the pillars of transformation are there, truly delivering the quality and capability that the industry and users deserve.

Moving from the present to the future. By the time you read this the UK General Election will have taken place and and we will know what the new political landscape has in store for us. Throughout the electioneering the parties seem to be tripping over one another in their claims to be spending more and more money to right the the wrongs of the past 12 years. It seems pretty apparent that none of them seem to be too clear on where the money is coming from.

But how about this situation?

The cost to the UK economy, taken from figures just published by the Health and Safety Executive, of work related injury and ill health is £30 billion. Yes £30 Billion.

This figure of £30 billion is made up by…

£9.8 Billion: being the annual costs of new cases of work related ill health

£5.2 Billion: being the annual costs of workplace injury in 2017 – 2018

£15 Billion : Being the annual costs of workplace injury and new cases of ill health

In terms of days lost to absence through work related injury and ill health that number is over 28 million days!

A staggering set of figures which has not come down much in recent years. Consider this in the context of the UK spend on running our country. The amount spent on Defence £46bn (cost of injury and ill health £30bn), on Transport £29bn (cost of injury and ill health £30bn) Housing and Environment £34bn (cost of injury and ill health £30bn), Health and the NHS £145bn (cost of injury and ill health £30bn).

Cuts to the resources of the HSE should be reversed and, if we got safety and health right it would free up so much more money in the economy. But getting safety and health wrong is obviously not just about the money. The HSE figures show us that 147 people lost their lives at work and that there were 12,000 deaths from lung disease estimated to be linked to past exposures to hazards at work. Further, an incredible 600,000 non fatal injuries were sustained.

Good Safety and Health at work is a right that everyone has but, we still have much work to do and surely,everyone deserves to go home safe and well.

Despite the figures quoted above the UK has a great record in occupational safety when compared to the record of other countries. In terms of fatal injuries the UK is the best performing European State, followed by Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain and France* 

* France reports somewhat differently including fatal road accidents while at work.

While we should be proud of our performance, these comparisons are often quoted by government to justify reductions in spending within HSE. But this conveniently ignores the fact that the UK no longer has any significant primary industry such as coal mining, ship building or steel making. Therefore BSIF continue to raise the conversation on the need for good proportionate Safety and Health regulation, properly policed in the UK, and we continue to call for the HSE to be properly resourced to build on the good work of the past and improve safety and health regulation and surveillance into the future.

So with a new decade is now in front of us. BSIF will continue to champion safety and health as the positive force for good that it is.

BSIF welcomes new member

“BKS Made to measure” recognises that widespread non-compliance within it’s industry has continued since standards were first introduced in 2002 and wants to help raise much needed and long overdue awareness of Motorcycle clothing’s very clear definition and now legal standing as ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ or PPE.

Alan Murray is chief executive of the BSIF. For more information, visit www.bsif.co.uk