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CEO's desk - March-22

28 February 2022

Alan Murray praises Newham Borough Council Trading Standards for its swift action removing unsafe product from sale at the MCN London Motorcycle Show.

REGULAR READERS of HSM and this column are well used to me lamenting on the problems of enforcement of the PPE regulations by the authorities. In this edition however, I am glad to be able to bring you up to date on some really creditable action taken by the Newham Borough Council at the MCN London Motorcycle Show, held at ExCel in February.

To set the scene, over the past three years one industry PPE expert has been on a mission to ensure that, as required by law, all motorcycle clothing has been conformity assessed in line with Regulation 2016/425 and that the products they buy are fit for purpose. The expert in question, Paul Varnsverry has raised almost 100 non-compliance reports to the authorities without seeing appropriate action. To further paint the landscape, following lobbying the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) visited the Motorcycle Live Show in December 2019 and warned traders that the authorities would never again allow the selling of motorcycle PPE which was not in compliance with the Regulation. Large sections of the industry failed to take the warning seriously and continued to place non-compliant product on the market. 

With Motorcycle Live returning at the NEC in December 2021 it was apparent that many of the “usual suspects” would still be selling non-compliant PPE directly off their stands to unknowing consumers. Despite heavy lobbying and the provision of market intelligence OPSS and Solihull Trading Standards (whose office is a 10 minute drive away from the NEC) chose not to attend! A disgrace, and frankly a dereliction of their duty!

Paul Varnsverry and BSIF attended and in a 15 minute walk around identified at least six stands selling non-compliant PPE! 

With the MCN London Motorcycle Show, due to run ExCeL in February the same lobbying and market intelligence was provided to Newham Borough Council Trading Standards, who subsequently committed to attend. All credit to them, trading standards in action.

And what do I hear you say was the result of that visit? In a nutshell 11 stand holders were found to be selling protective clothing (PPE) which had not been conformity assessed and correctly certified. Some of the items had counterfeit armour and bogus and misleading labelling. 

This label is a counterfeit label utterly misusing the SATRA logo.

There were other examples of clothing, which were clearly PPE, carrying labels saying that it was not, and not subject to Regulation. Again completely bogus.

In all, some 26 stands were visited by 2 Newham Borough Council staff over a full day, resulting in interventions, product confiscation and in one case a stand closure. So here I am paying tribute to Newham Borough Council for their dedication and professionalism, which resulted in unsafe product being removed from sale. The Newham Trading Standards staff were at all times fair, but firm. Their approach was commendable.

It was of course heartening to see the welcome this activity received from other brands and businesses who had ensured that all of their products were compliant and safe. Enforcement is vital for safety and essential in maintaining a fair and level marketplace. Well done again to Newham. 
Following on from the success achieved by Newham, and the publicity generated, along with direct encouragement, South West Trading Standards and Edinburgh Trading Standards have set up initiatives to monitor the upcoming exhibitions happening on their territories.

In the Occupational Safety market we know that there is PPE of all types, which does not conform and is potentially unsafe. BSIF does its utmost on market surveillance through the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme and consistently reports non-compliances to the authorities for action, sadly their reaction is all too often lacking and does not materialise in a timely fashion. Circumstances may not always present the opportunity for such corrective action in the way that they presented at the ExCel show, but with all of the reports BSIF has created over the past years we are entitled to see a great deal more in the way of responses from the enforcement agencies.

Shortly, BSIF will publish a review of the PPE crisis which overwhelmed us during the pandemic and this will include four or five simple actions that the authorities can, and must, take to discharge their market surveillance responsibilities. 

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