Spotlight on Luke Neale
13 July 2021
LUKE NEALE is the new Registered Safety Supplier Scheme Audit & Compliance Assessor at BSIF. We find out how he has settled into his role.
How much did you know about the RSSS before you joined BSIF?
I had a really good knowledge of the RSSS and the audit process before joining because the company I worked for previously are members of the RSSS and it was my responsibility to conduct the audit, so I experienced two audits from the ‘other side of the desk’ before joining the Federation.
Could you tell us a bit about your role and how an additional Auditor benefits the RSSS?
With a membership of over 300 organisations each requiring an annual audit, it was a challenge for the team to conduct all of the audits as well as invigilating the final SSA exams and also dealing with the many day-to-day enquiries from our membership and external organisations. I was primarily brought on board to conduct Audits and respond to enquires our members may have in relation any number of topics, such as the various standards in place covering PPE, testing, documentation, certification and UKCA to name a few. I genuinely love my job and enjoy engaging with our members each day.
I’m really looking forward to the networking event this year – it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to meet our members and get together with the BSIF team!
After six months working within the scheme has anything surprised you?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the depth of knowledge & level of expertise that our members have within the PPE Product & Service sector as well as the safety industry in general.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in regard to the RSSS throughout the last six months?
There have been various challenges for me since joining the BSIF, obviously the pandemic has had a massive impact on our members in many ways, and the reduced staffing levels and remote working situations have been a challenge to the audit process. The regional and national lockdowns have prevented the final invigilated Safe Supply Accreditation course exams taking place, but I’m pleased to say we are in the process of arranging these exams now, so if any of our members are in the position to sit their final exam, I would encourage them to get in touch so we can make arrangements to invigilate.
UKCA is also representing a challenge for our members as they try to get to grips with their obligations in relation to the transition from CE to UKCA.
Another strange aspect of joining BSIF when I did is that I have yet to meet all of the team or visit the head office! I hope to do so before too much longer.
Has your perception of members changed since you started here?
It has – whilst I already held the view that our members were committed to the RSSS, conducting the audits and engaging with our members has shown me just how dedicated they are to the supply of compliant safety products and services.
How do you think the RSSS helps the marketplace and general standard of H&S in UK workplaces?
Earlier in the year, Roy Wilders and I conducted a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ where we had one hour to source as much PPE from non-members as we could. I bought motorcycle clothing, protective gloves, safety footwear, Hi Vis and flame retardant clothing. I have to say, the results shocked me – for the most part the products were supplied without any of the required documentation – Declarations of Conformity, User Instructions etc. and when these were requested from the supplier, more often than not we were met with silence. Some of the products tested didn’t perform as claimed either – I tested a glove claiming to be cut level F and it only achieved level B – needless to say these products and traders have all been reported to the relevant Market Surveillance authorities.
I’m pleased to say that we don’t have any such issues with our members, and the audit verifies their status as a fully compliant supplier of safety equipment & services. In short, membership of the scheme makes the marketplace safer and in turn saves lives.
Do you find enthusiasm for the scheme from the companies you audit to adhere to the scheme?
In all honesty, the members of the scheme wear the Shield of Protection with pride – without exception all of our members are eager to ‘do the right thing’ in terms of the relevant legislation and the systems many of them have in place are really impressive.
What advice can you give to people looking for a supplier?
The BSIF/RSSS website has an excellent search feature where you can filter by product type or service, these can be found by visiting www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk
What is involved in an RSSS audit?
As many of our members will attest, the audit process is relatively quick to do and really straightforward – we make checks to ensure that the member is aware of their obligations under the relevant legislation and that they have correct and relevant systems in place. Where relevant we also perform an indicative test on PPE to verify the claims made through a UKAS approved lab.
How important do you see the role of the Safe Supply Accreditation in helping to raise the standards of PPE/Safety equipment sellers?
The role is crucial, educating those selling PPE/safety equipment is key to improving the supply chain, all RSSS members commit to having their customer facing staff trained in safe supply, the qualification teaches them their obligations in regards to the supply of the product, knowledge they can then pass on to customers when helping to select appropriate PPE/Safety equipment.
Why do you think the RSSS has become so important firstly to companies that operate within the PPE/Safety product and service sector and secondly to those that purchase PPE/safety products and services?
Simply put, by using a member of the RSSS you can be sure that the product you are buying is safe and fully compliant.
What’s next for the RSSS? How do you see it developing?
We often ask for feedback from our members during audits to see if there are things we can do better or differently to give them the most value from the scheme – we always take their comments on board and we will be looking to incorporate some extra features in the coming year to give the members more value and to make the scheme more robust.