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Take the risk out of procurement

23 November 2023

In this article BSIF CEO Alan Murray discusses the progress that the BSIF is making in raising the profile of the Registered Safety Supplier (RSS) scheme and urges those who are not yet doing so to incorporate the scheme into their procurement processes.

The latest BSIF statistics1 show the availability of non-compliant PPE and safety equipment shows no signs of abating.

Between December 2021 and December 2022, the BSIF completed tests on 127 non-BSIF member products, which included checking their compliance with relevant standards and testing whether they perform as advertised. Only 18 products were fully compliant, with 108 - or 85% - failing to meet regulatory criteria.

Elsewhere, results from tests undertaken by the Office for Product Safety and Standards1 released in 2023 found that 80% of low-quality products bought from online marketplaces failed safety tests, with PPE regularly featuring in OPSS product recalls. This reinforces the BSIF's concerns that there is a serious problem with the availability of dangerous and non-compliant goods in the UK. 

By contrast, 86% of 387 tests carried out by the BSIF on products supplied by members of the BSIF's Registered Safety Supplier Scheme (RSSS) passed immediately. The issues around the remaining 14% were then resolved, and all 387 products are now fully compliant. 

Buyers' responsibilities

Anyone in charge of buying PPE and safety equipment has a responsibility to select appropriate, certified and compliant products that meet workers' specific requirements.

Due diligence is vital. Buyers must assess the extent to which a product is fit for purpose. They should also look for wearer benefits above and beyond basic protection and make sure it fits comfortably so that it performs correctly. They must also determine whether it is compatible with other PPE that may be required.

The BSIF has created a checklist to help specifiers and users check whether PPE is fit for purpose in line with regulatory requirements. It includes questions such as whether the PPE has a UKCA, UKNI or CE Mark; if it was issued with user instructions; and if there is a Declaration of Conformity. If any questions present cause for concern, users should seek support and guidance from their company's health & safety advisor and the manufacturer of the PPE. BSIF also offers an additional checklist featuring advice on how to check if the supporting documentation for PPE is in fact genuine.


As regular readers of the BSIF Guide will know, sourcing products from companies signed up to the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme (RSSS) is a simple way to fulfil your responsibilities as a buyer and cut the risk of inappropriate PPE selection and the serious consequences that can occur. 

The BSIF has been working hard in recent years to raise the profile of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme and its work and to encourage businesses and organisations to include the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme within their prequalification criteria. 

In October 2022, the BSIF launched Check-Select-Protect, a campaign recommending that buyers and end users follow a simple three-step process to ensure their PPE and safety equipment is fit for purpose: 

  • CHECK your supplier is BSIF Registered. BSIF-audited suppliers are compliant, competent and trustworthy.

  • SELECT appropriate, certified and approved products. Registered Safety Suppliers can support the product selection process through their competence, capability and knowledge.

  • PROTECT your people, your most precious asset, and help your business to thrive.

Since its launch, the campaign has enjoyed widespread coverage across the trade press, at industry events and on social media, as well as via BSIF member communications. 

Industry support

We are happy to share that a growing number of public and private sector organisations have pledged their support for the Registered Safety Supplier scheme, with many organisations now insisting on only using Registered Safety Suppliers when procuring PPE and safety products. A complete list of supporters can be found here: www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk/supporters/

One such supporter is Kevin Smith, procurement lead at Skanska, who is a strong advocate of the BSIF's work and the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme. Kevin explains: "We have worked with the BSIF since the pandemic when they provided crucial support in identifying bona fide PPE supplies to our workforce of over 3000 site-based, customer-facing employees.

"Without the assistance of BSIF, we would have without doubt procured non-compliant PPE, putting both our workforce and customers at risk of COVID. Bearing in mind that vaccinations were not yet available and death rates through COVID were high, BSIF assistance saved lives."

Speaking about the prevalence of substandard products on the market today, Kevin adds: "I have seen various examples of uncertified PPE, and many are visibly inferior to certified products. Part of the challenge is that many people will take a CE mark at face value and therefore won't realise that these marks may be fake and products may not in fact, be fit for purpose. 

Kevin concludes: “The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme ensures that PPE purchased is to the required standard and that we avoid inferior products that would put our workforce and employees at risk.” 

Gary Shout, group health, safety and environmental manager at Clegg Group is also an advocate of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme. Gary explains: “While our subcontractors already undergo a thorough vetting process we are looking at incorporating the BSIF Registered Safety Supplier Scheme into our prequalification processes because it’s reassuring to know suppliers are part of an audited framework. Currently our subcontractors are expected to provide evidence that they are equipped with the appropriate PPE, health monitoring procedures, and other relevant measures as part of our Pre-Qualification (PQ) requirements. Asking them to use BSIF Registered Safety Suppliers will reinforce our commitment to high health and safety standards and provide us with additional confidence that our supply chain undergoes rigorous evaluation by an independent body.” 

Pledge your support

If you are interested in becoming a supporter of the BSIF Registered Safety Supplier scheme and specifying RSS for your supply chain, contact enquiries@bsif.co.uk. 

Looking ahead

Into 2024, the BSIF will continue to work to raise the profile of the Registered Safety Supplier scheme, which will include expanding our range of resources, articles and awareness work. We will also be honing in on specific product categories to provide a deeper insight into the potential pitfalls of making poor choices regarding individual categories of PPE and safety products.

As always, your comments and insight are welcome. If you are interested in sharing your views as a buyer or seller of PPE and safety equipment, please email georgina@blackthorn-media.co.uk

2 https://tinyurl.com/4kx8fvmx

Alan Murray is CEO of BSIF. For more information, visit www.bsif.co.uk