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CEO's desk - May-22 12/05/2022

Alan Murray provides an overview of the recent BSIF whitepaper that reflects on the Covid PPE crisis and outlines what actions are needed to ensure these mistakes are not made again.

IT IS now over two years since the Covid PPE crisis engulfed the country and despite media headlines, shock stories on sourcing processes and product quality, we are yet to see the promised formal government inquiry. While perhaps this is not surprising, given current world events and the controversies surrounding certain behaviours during lockdown, it is imperative that we do not move on without learning the lessons from that time.

The safety industry is very well aware of what happened during that period, with non-compliant, often unsafe product flooding the market, but to ensure the circumstances and the impacts do not become lost in time, BSIF have published a white paper, “Pandemic Reflections, A review following the PPE crisis of 2020”. The paper, as the title suggests, reflects on the circumstances of the period but more importantly details what we believe should be done to ensure that users of PPE and safety equipment get the product quality that they deserve. The full document can be downloaded athttps://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Pandemic-response-article.pdf

The events of the pandemic elevated PPE in the consciousness of the public and the media but we encounter similar problems every day in the general safety market. 

PPE is critical to wearer safety and of course the product ranges go far wider than the very narrow range of Covid related PPE. So we insist that the PPE Regulation 2016/425 is enforced and users kept safe and have their long term health protected. 

The chance of achieving more public resource and a transformation in the approach by the enforcement authorities seems unlikely to happen, but we believe that some simple actions will produce disproportionately strong results in the battle against unsafe non-compliant PPE being placed on the UK market.

The whitepaper “Pandemic Reflections, A review following the PPE crisis of 2020” includes 5 straightforward requests for action which, without significant increase in cost will deliver substantial improvement. The 5 calls for action are…………

  1. Trading Standards take immediate action in those examples already supplied to them, even if just a meaningful selection. The action should be “prosecution” under the existing PPE Regulation and indeed under consumer law. There are sufficient concerns already reported and lodged with the authorities to enable progress. 
     

  2. We call for the penalties, while remaining proportionate, to recognise that selling non-compliant PPE is putting wearers in danger and that it is fraudulent. Penalties should follow the example of the 2015 case where action by Hertfordshire Trading Standards against a well- known retailer, found to be selling non-compliant Hi-Viz clothing, resulted in a fine of £15,000 plus a confiscation order of over £42,000 plus costs. Confiscation orders are not normally seen in these types of cases, being more often applied in proceeds of crime recovery, but this confiscation reflected the reality that the products were fraudulently being placed on the market. Penalties under this structure and scale will act as a very powerful disincentive to economic operators ignoring their responsibilities and placing individuals at risk. BSIF will then be able to highlight these cases to the wider market encouraging all to discharge their obligations and ensure that users are kept safe. 
     

  3. We call on the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to recognise that PPE must be removed from the market if it cannot immediately be evidenced that it complies with Regulation 2016/425. As a minimum this must be applied to PPE in Categories II and III which require independent conformity assessment by Approved Bodies scoped for that purpose. 
     

  4. We call on the legislators to take action on the unethical and immoral practices enabled by the defence of “innocent publication” allowing internet portals and sellers to avoid responsibility for the products that they promote, profit from, and facilitate placing on the UK market. In this call to the legislators we would stress that social media platforms be they Twitter or LinkedIn must be included in any reform, as they are increasingly used as a channel in the sale of PPE. Action in this area by UK legislators would show global leadership and be welcomed far and wide. 
     

  5. The confusion of responsibility as to which is the relevant enforcement authority must be addressed. Currently HSE are responsible in an “at work/occupational” situation with Trading Standards being responsible when PPE is offered for sale “to the consumer”. Supply chains, where the problem and the solutions lie, do not effectively differentiate between the two different scenarios, so one enforcement agency for all supply routes, as opposed to two enforcement agencies is an essential change. HSE, of course, should remain as the responsible authority for all workplace safety and health practices, including what and how PPE is used. 

Non-compliant PPE will exist in the supply chain prior to its sale for occupational use and the problem should be addressed, in that supply process, prior to it reaching the wearers. Trading Standards have the experience of dealing with traders and in a wide range of supply chains, HSE do not have a history of involvement or natural access to suppliers and therefore it is our contention that Trading Standards must be the primary enforcement authority for PPE.

The BSIF Registered Safety Supplier Scheme provides a quality assurance process for users and we will continue to add resource to the scheme. However, effective control requires enforcement of the legislation. 

Download the whitepaper at https://tinyurl.com/2p94u5ta

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

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BSIF review of 2021 31/03/2022

IT SEEMS that the last two years have been a whirlwind in the industry, with the PPE crisis of the pandemic and the changing requirements for the introduction of a new UK Conformity Assessment regime for manufactured goods, created by our departure from the European Union.

In my foreword to the 2021 BSIF Industry Reference Guide, I talked about the need for reflection and recalibration in the industry following the lessons learnt from the crisis, but we appear not to have got there yet. There have, it is true, been reports from the National Audit Office, hearings by the Select Committee covering Public Accounts but the promised Public Enquiry will not now take place until we are well into 2022.

It would be wrong to attempt to second-guess what the conclusions of such enquiries will deliver given the vast scale and very short timeframes in 2020 with the circumstances being, as we have come to accept, “unprecedented”. 

I would expect that any conclusions reached will mainly focus on lack of readiness and potential future learnings on the subject. When the peak of the PPE supply crisis had abated somewhat, there was a great deal of discussion around UK Make and the need to “onshore” manufacturing to reduce future reliance on extended supply chains. However, despite an increase in UK manufactured PPE the much vaunted National Health Service and Public Health England workshops with manufacturers has yet to begin. The original plan was for these workshops to commence in January 2021 but these were then re-scheduled until April, then September and as of yet they are still to happen. It could be of course, that this has been delayed by the fact that the government has over 400,000 pallets of “PPE” (some of which is questionable product) still in storage around the country! Nonetheless, Covid 19 has not gone away and as I write this foreword, we have the new Omicron variant threatening, and a strategic approach involving the experts in the safety industry must happen or the mistakes of the past could well be repeated.

It has been widely reported that the word of the year 2021was “vax” but I would argue that it should have been “delays”. The combination of the pandemic and the UK exit from the EU has seen continuing disruption to supply chains across a wide range of industries.

During September 2020 we had the winding out of the PPE Easement 2020/403 and the launching of guidance for the UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA & UKNI) regime for products, including PPE. The guidance stated that in the event of an EU/UK deal that did not include mutual recognition, then after the 31st of December 2021 CE marked product could no longer be placed on the GB market. The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed on the 24th of December 2020 confirmed that there would be no mutual recognition of the UK/EU, product conformity assessment processes.

All across the industry the focus was on making this happen. Conformity assessment for PPE in the UK market had to be carried out by newly instituted UK Approved Bodies. These Approved Bodies, formerly UK Notified Bodies under the CE regime began to attempt to increase resource and capacity to deliver certification to the deadlines. This, of course, was against the backdrop of all the extra work undertaken to approve and certify Covid related PPE under easement.

Despite the various alleviations to the requirements to affix the UKCA/UKNI mark to the product itself, the market was clearly not going to be ready.

BSIF lobbied the ministers involved seeking further extensions to the standstill period but, suffered straight away a very negative response from the Under Secretary of State responsible, who maintained that “his officials had been working with the Approved Bodies to increase capacity to ensure that we were ready”. I responded that this was news to me and indeed news to the Approved Bodies who are all members of BSIF. At the same time I had the opportunity to highlight the risk that once again a lack of PPE would be on the front pages, not this time due to a global shortage but to an arbitrary, politically expedient date.

Some 3 weeks after that exchange the implementation of UKCA/NI requirement was delayed by a further year through the increase in the standstill period. Of course it wasn’t all down to BSIF lobbying but at least this “delay” demonstrated that Westminster was indeed listening and it is something of an example where we can indeed speak truth or indeed reality to power.

Throughout 2021 we have been very busy promoting the needs for stronger market surveillance in our category but that has yet to bear fruit. Our relationships with the authorities are strong and we definitely have an adequate share of voice but lack enforcement remains and it undermines the Regulation and maintains an unfair market.

2020 was indeed a unique year and 2021 started with the UK outside of the UK meaning a different set of problems were presented. The BSIF has always been on hand to advise both members and end users on PPE and Safety Standards and the applicable legislation and, given the changes from Directive to Regulation to Easement and the effects of Brexit we hope we have discharged our responsibilities diligently. 

The UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement of December 2020 suddenly produced new challenges, as the membership posed us a series of questions on tariffs, duties and definitions of product origins. We worked with BEIS and HMRC on these questions but as ever guidance is often general and directional rather than appropriately specific. BSIF were ultimately not best placed to provide advice directly. What we were able to do was partner with a training company, expert in this field and create an Import and Export Essentials training course which we offered to the membership at a subsidised rate. The uptake has been very good and feedback very positive indeed. I commend it to you. 

As ever the BSIF seek to help and support our membership and the UK Occupational Safety and Health market. This is our mission and we look forward to continuing to serve in 2022.

Alan Murray

BSIF CEO

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BSIF Safety Awards 2022 30/03/2022

THE PRESTIGIOUS BSIF Safety Awards recognise excellence within the safety industry, excellence in customer service, product innovation and have the key goal of improving occupational health and safety.

The award winners will be announced as part of the Safety & Health Excellence Awards taking place on Wednesday 6thApril at the Vox, NEC, Birmingham.

The three categories covered are:

  • Product Innovation: An award for products that are new and innovative and will contribute to improvements in occupational safety & health.
  • Customer Service: An award for companies in the safety field offering exceptional and innovative service. Voted for by the entrants’ own customers.
  • Safety Solution: Based upon case studies submitted by entrants, these awards recognise major improvements in occupational safety created in 2020/2021.

BSIF are pleased to now be able to announce the finalists for the Product Innovation Award, they are:

Product Innovation Award Finalists 2022

Trolex - The Air XS Silica Monitor

Mackwell – Whitebox Range

Design Reality - Revolution 200 half-mask respirator – FSM200

Centurion - Nexus Extreme/Exceed Mips

Ejendals - Dynamic Strength Impact protection glove range

Guardian - Webbing Temporary Horizontal Lifeline

JSP - Sonis Comms

Toughbuilt - SnapShell Rocker Kneepads: TB-KP-G201

Ash Safety – APL Tripod

3M - PELTOR™ WS™ ALERT™ X Headset

These entries will now move forward to the BSIF judging day, here the finalists will present their products to a live judging panel allowing them to showcase the innovation and state their claim for the top prize! The judging panel is independent from BSIF and consists of experts in the industry.

Keep an eye on the BSIF social media accounts for the winners announcements due on 6th April!
Twitter - @bsif1
LinkedIn - @britishsafetyindustryfederation

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Discover Registered Safety Suppliers this April 30/03/2022

THE REGISTERED Safety Supplier Trail in partnership with British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) will be returning for 2022 at the UK’s leading exhibition dedicated to improving occupational workplace safety standards, The Health & Safety Event on 5-7 April at the NEC Birmingham.

The aim of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme is to provide assurance to users that only compliant and correctly performing products are being supplied through a capable, educated, and competent supply chain as unsafe PPE is still a growing issue within the health and safety industry.

By attending The Health & Safety Event this April, you will discover and connect with registered safety suppliers who will be showcasing hundreds of certified PPE products that support the UK safety market.

Click here to register your free pass

Join us at The Health & Safety Event this April and discover these confirmed BSIF members exhibiting:

Find out more information about the Registered Safety Supplier Trail https://www.healthandsafetyevent.com/registered-safety-supplier-trail

Secure your free pass today and connect with PPE suppliers who are eager to share their latest products and solutions for your business challenges. 

Secure your pass today

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CEO's desk - March-22 28/02/2022

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

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BSIF Special Interest Groups 08/12/2021

Many representative Trade Bodies connect with their membership through a range of “Technical Committees”, BSIF has for our part, an active structure of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) bringing members together, keeping all aware of industry issues, sharing and cascading market information and facilitating debate and developing positions on product standards. The SIGs also provide end user communications to support the betterment of safety and health in their specific area of activity.

SIG PARTICIPATION is open to all members bringing together the entire PPE and safety supply chain, from manufacturers and importers though to distributors serving the end users. Through participation in the SIGs an individual can be nominated through to the BSI PH committees ensuring that they also have the opportunity to influence standards in development. From the PH committees an individual can also participate in the CEN and ISO international committee structures 

SIGs have become part of our DNA and meet up to three times a year. The pandemic brought face to face meetings to an abrupt halt in 2020 creating a new normal of remote meetings, which continued throughout 2021. Online meetings should not be viewed as a replacement for face to face, even with all the flexibility that they offer you still miss much of the communication and, spontaneity can also be compromised, meaning the experience is often somewhat shallow and less rewarding than physical meetings. That said as we approach 2022, the SIGs will continue to utilise remote platforms but with a blend of face to face and remote access participation. 

One very positive output from having the opportunity to participate on line was the increase in the number of attendees taking part in each meeting, that indeed was pleasing..

The SIGs that operate within BSIF are defined by specific areas of interest be that driven by product type or by area of risk. The SIGs are: 

  • The Height Safety Group
  • The Respiratory Protection Group
  • The Eye Face, Head and Hearing
  • The Measurement and Instrumentation Group
  • The Safety Footwear Group
  • The Spill Containment and Control Group
  • The Protective Glove and Clothing Group
  • The Test and Certification Association

The sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed that they are all “Groups” with the exception of the Test and Certification Association. Membership of the Test and Certification Association is restricted to member companies who are Approved Bodies scoped for PPE under Regulation (EU) 2016/425 as incorporated into UK law and in addition participation in this group is also open to members with UKAS Accredited Laboratories. 

Apart from the Test and Certification Group the SIGs welcome everyone from the BSIF membership who has an interest in that area. We encourage all to join the meetings, and to give a flavour, set out below is a brief look back at the SIG goings on in 2021.

The Safety Footwear SIG

Under the Leadership of the new Chair the group met a total of 5 times during 2021 with an average attendance of 29 members, all via remote links. This group has an active workload on standards and specifications but found the capacity to produce the Safety Footwear “Jargon Buster” to aid marketplace understanding and demystify the terminology used. This document was received enthusiastically during the Health and Safety Event at the NEC in September.

The group have begun to take on the challenge of electrical hazards and appropriate footwear. This hazard category does deserve more scrutiny for the future and this will be addressed.

Picture of the footwear chart goes here

The Height Safety SIG

Height Safety and safety management in this discipline is a very technical area. While PPE has an obvious role to play much of the science surrounds installation and access requirements and the specification of projects. This group benefits from some hugely committed, capable individuals, highly qualified and experienced in their field. 2021 was indeed a very busy year with the launching of a dedicated Height Safety Group website aimed at end users and packed full of useful information and resource. Please have a look for yourself by visiting https://www.bsif-heightsafetygroup.org/

In addition to the launching of the new website the group produced 2 detailed guidance documents to assist the market in the implementation of the standards BS13700 and BS7883. The BSIF Height Safety Group is a very busy and a very productive SIG.

The Respiratory Protection SIG

As you can probably envisage this SIG were absolutely front and centre of the respiratory protective equipment chaos experienced at the height of the pandemic in 2020, including the impacts of the Regulatory Easements and the challenges created by non-conforming masks and the wearing and specifying of community face coverings. 2021 saw a leveling off, in some sense however, there are still issues of concern from 2020 which are remain unresolved, such as the use of filtering face pieces which are held in place by ear loops instead of the specified “head harness”. This problem area is still under consideration by the HSE and we would expect them to publish their position imminently. The SIG met 4 times in the year with an average attendance of 28 people.

Protective Glove and Clothing SIG

A group with a wide product range, covering a vast array of hazard and risks and a sector of great interest across the BSIF membership. This SIG deals with a huge bank of product standards with some items of technical workwear requiring certification to multiple standards. The group has been fortunate to benefit over the years from the input of rapporteurs from national and international standards committees, who have done a magnificent job in keeping us up to speed in this very complex area. The group met 3 times in ’21 with attendance averaging at 45!

The Glove and Clothing Group have also been responsible for very successful campaigns in the past and during 2021 created further pieces of guidance on Knife Injury Prevention and advice in the area of logos and alterations on protective clothing.

Eye, Face, Head and Hearing SIG

Another combined group where the product ranges tend to be complementary or can be used in combination. This SIG while remaining a combined group under the chairman will, going forward, have dedicated leads in all specific elements of the group’s remit, being Eye and Face, Head and of course Hearing. This is an exciting development enabling more focus evenly spread across the product groups. SIG’s work is often dictated by standards currently being worked upon and in 2021 we had on major revisions reported on for EN 352 in hearing. The question of PPE for children’s hearing has yet to be resolved at the European level.

Spill Control and Containment SIG

The Spills Group progressed a major project in the publication of a range of guidance documents previously managed by the Environment Agency. This suite of advisory documents “Environmental Safeguarding Advice” (ESA) comprise 11 elements and the group published 5 during 2021. This was a major step forward and the result of a great deal of work done by experts within the team. The ESAs can be downloaded (as can all BSIF’s valuable market guidance) at https://www.bsif.co.uk/downloads-centre-2/

The group also added the Water Pollution Protection award to the range of BSIF Awards with congratulations going to the inaugural winners, The River and Canal Trust and Loughborough University. Spills and the potential effect on the environment remain an important element of a holistic approach to safety ad we encourage more involvement where possible in this important trailblazing SIG.

Test and Certification Association

The Test and Certification Association comprises (now under the new UKCA regime) all of the Approved Bodies scoped by the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy to provide approval decision and certification for PPE. The group met many times during the year to work through the implications of the amended Regulation following our departure from the EU. The last 2 years for this group have been traumatic following the PPE Easements of 2020 and the sudden application of the UKCA regime. One of the changes created by the UK amending of the PPE Regulation is that there is no mandate from the Secretary of State for coordination by the Approved Bodies. However, there is a desperate need for that to happen. The government departments actually do not have a title for the Regulation and there are multiple areas of interpretation where consistency should indeed be applied. We know that the amended Regulation created UK Designated Standards but that process, despite promises to the contrary, is unnecessarily opaque.

The system EU system on RfUs will not apply automatically and the group will create BSIF UK Approved Body “positions” to fill the gap. The Approved Bodies automatically appointed at the start of 2020 are being added to by European Notified Bodies setting up in the UK to provide certification services. To date some 3 have entered the UK market.

I wanted to make you aware of another key change that we have made to the constitution of the Test and Certification Group. That is, all of the other Chairs of the PPE focussed SIG’s will now join and participate, representing the views of manufacturers and users. This is a key development designed to further make the UK Certification process as inclusive and effective as possible.

The work of the Test and Certification SIG is vital to the effective running of the UK Product Safety Framework. For information this group actually got together 8 times during 2021 reflecting the work required to, quite frankly, fill the gaps in government advice.

What’s Next
BSIF will create a new Special Interest Group dedicated to the topic of Sustainability. Sustainability, Net Zero and the environmental challenges will have to be front and centre of the industry’s thinking from here on. Our challenge is to effectively scope and define what it means in the context of PPE and Safety. Many businesses across the markets appear to be promoting claims that are at best unsubstantiated and tantamount to “greenwashing”. It is important that BSIF and the membership establish clear understanding and go forward with a defendable platform. We will have more news on this initiative as soon as possible.

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

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Safe Supply Accreditation 06/12/2021

BSIF and our members are determined to transform the quality and capability of the PPE and Safety Equipment market in the UK.

WE ALL know that the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme provides an assurance to those choosing suppliers, allowing purchasers to engage with partners who are audited, have their products tested and certified properly and can demonstrate that they fulfil their statutory obligations and responsibilities. Sometimes overlooked is the additional strength of a Registered Safety Supplier, which is that they ensure that their customer facing staff know all that they should know about the market, in which they operate. 

Safe Supply Accreditation allows personal capability to be evidenced with individuals taking learning from four key modules covering the Legal Framework of Safety, the Management of Safety in the Workplace, Product Standards and Compliance to Regulation and, the operation of Market Surveillance in the UK. 

The pandemic caused major disruption in the taking of the final exams for accreditation but with collective exam sessions organised across the country we have caught up dramatically on the backlog. There are now hundreds of individuals qualified through the scheme. 

The PPE and Safety market deserves quality and capability and the scheme exists to educate all in this critical market. The changes brought about by leaving the EU demands that the content of the course is updated to reflect the UK’s new product safety conformity assessment processes, and that work is underway right now.

Education is key and the Safe Supply Accreditation provides that. The next step in Safe Supply is to create learning aimed at end users in order that they can better understand this market. 

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CEO's desk - December 21 14/12/2021

As another year comes to a close, Alan Murray reflects on an eventful year for the British Safety Industry Federation and its members.

Writing my piece for the end of the year edition of HSM I find myself, perhaps naturally, reflecting on 2021 and the year just gone. Is it just me, or has the year gone by in a flash? Suddenly we seem to be at the end of it. 

In addition to the velocity of time passing, it feels as though one cannot somehow take 2020 and 2021 as two separate years, they appear to have melded into each other, with issues overlapping from the pandemic chaos and Regulatory changes following our departure from the EU. In many ways it seems to be an ongoing series of inextricably linked pieces in a confusing jigsaw puzzle

The first CEO desk column I wrote in 2021 highlighted the Trade and Cooperation Agreement dealing with the UK’s future relationship with the EU. In that piece we outlined what needed to happen with mandatory product certification to the new UKCA regime required by January 1st 2022. The last piece I wrote for the October edition of HSM heralded that in fact the Government recognising the impossibility of the timeframe given to industry to comply, had added a further year to the CE standstill period meaning the final date(??) for compliance would be 1 of January 2023. Common sense from Westminster I can hear you say, but common sense that materialised only after a great deal of lobbying and persuasion.

I am optimistic and believe that the Safety and PPE industry will be ready in time for the new deadline, but work is required and there is no room for complacency. Other industries may struggle more than us. I know that in Construction Products there are a shortage of Approved Bodies able to give the necessary decisions, with that market having relied on European bodies for a long time. So in this CE/UKCA arena we have continued on the treadmill, started by PPE “easement” rules, of continually publishing market guidance following new rules dripping out from the Government.

One consequence of Brexit that became a new challenge was requests from BSIF members on how to deal with the changes in customs rates, duties, tariffs and product nationality now that we were out. While hopefully always current on standards questions, the import and export queries were not ones that were within the existing core competencies of the staff. Faced with this situation the BSIF team took training from a specialist agency, and created a course on import and export essentials. The findings from doing the course led us to believe that with some extra input and redesign, with a bias using PPE to illustrate the rules, we could create and offer the membership a useful training module. I am pleased to say that as of now we have put approximately 100 BSIF delegates through the course. It doesn’t instantly create experts but delivers useful knowledge and de-mystifies a complex area. I can only recommend this to you.

2021 saw industry gradually emerge from lockdowns in a step process. But face to face engagement with the market remained curtailed and the habit of virtual meetings and webinars persisted. Building on the experience of the PPE crisis, in April the date the Safety and Health Event at the NEC had been due to take place, BSIF held a very successful webinar designed to promote the vital need to select good PPE and its positive role in good safety and health. This very successful conference was followed by the BSIF and HSM Awards, again virtual and themselves held over from the previous year due to the pandemic. Having waited a full year to conclude the 2020 awards our 2021 awards were then judged and announced on-line in October 21, once again in partnership with the HSM and Western Business Media.

BSIF’s partnership with HSM and Western Business Media is extremely important to us. It facilitates a range of media and communication opportunities, from print to digital allowing us to reach those that need us. This partnership has, I am thrilled to tell you, been recognised along with the Guide to the British Safety Industry as “Commercial Partnership of the Year” by the PPA at the Independent Publishing Awards. 

In September a further step on the return to normality saw the running of the Safety and Health Event at the NEC, itself postponed from April 2020. Congratulations to the Nineteen Group, BSIF’s exhibition partners, for running such a successful event safely.

Mercifully the amount dreadful illegitimate PPE that flooded the market at the height of the pandemic has declined but there is still poor product being placed on the market by questionable suppliers. The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, now with more resource, has never been more relevant. The scheme itself cannot do it all on its own, and the authorities must enforce their own Regulations. Action by the authorities and enforcement is vital for safety and a fair market. If there was another example of sameness needed it was the lack of interest and commitment by the Market Surveillance Authorities to act. Same old same old I’m afraid. 

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) own the strategy and responsibility for policy, but whether it is lack of resource or ambition the willingness to act is not there, even when presented with all the necessary evidence. 

I know that OPSS have prioritised investigation of on-line sales and are researching AI and digital tools to help the effort. This feels like a long term initiative and something that no doubt can be pointed to as action when challenged, but with obvious examples of non-compliant product continually presented to them by BSIF and our members they only need to act! This would have the effect of punishing illegal traders and persuading others to desist. Not taking enforcement action, and not carrying out their statutory responsibility is completely unacceptable. This must change. 

Re-reading some of the text above it does illustrate the mist surrounding the chronology of the last 2 years where our routines and timelines have been truncated and contracted. We sit here at the end of 2021 looking forward to a new year and hope that some of the crucial issues we have faced over the last two years will be addressed and we can go on building a Safety Industry that will lead the world.

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Recognising excellence 02/12/2021

The prestigious BSIF Safety Awards, renowned for recognising excellence within the safety industry, excellence in customer service, product innovation and with the key goal of improving occupational safety and health within the UK were announced as part of the Safety & Health Awards digital event on 28 April 2021, the event was held online and hosted by Alistair McGowan who gave a fantastic comedy sketch prior to the big reveal.

THE 2020 entries for the prestigious BSIF Safety Awards were completed before the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, but had to be delayed by a full year before the announcement could be made. After a few false dawns and changes to the event, it was finally possible to recognise our winning entries. The companies that entered our awards recognise that through their hard work and innovative thinking we can collectively continue to keep people at work safe.

The three categories of the BSIF Awards are Product Innovation, Safety Solution and Service Excellence:

Product Innovation: An award for products that are new and innovative and will contribute to improvements in occupational safety & health within the UK.

Safety Solutions: Based upon case studies submitted by members, these awards recognise major improvements in occupational safety as a result of a supplier/customer project created in 2017/2018.

Service Excellence: An award for companies in the safety field offering exceptional and innovative service solutions. Voted for by the entrants’ own customers who respond to questionnaires focusing on their supplier’s service.

Water Pollution Prevention: The award, supported by the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Wales recognises the efforts made by business to protect the environment and ensure that all water pollution risks are managed in an effective and efficient way.

The BSIF Product Innovation Award was judged using live presentations of the products to the judges enabling them to ask questions to the entrants and gain a full understanding of the product.

The judging panel consists of highly respected and well-known figures from the health & safety arena, with a broad range of professional expertise.

The winners of the four award categories are listed below:

Product Innovation:

Winner

Brilliant Ideas – Net Recovery System

Highly Commended

Design Reality – FitCheck® technology

Keir Highways – Instaboom

Commended

Centurion – XIV Arc Screen

Panduit Verisafe – Voltage Assesser

After learning of their success, Bright Ideas commented: “We are delighted to have won the Product Innovation Award and to have been Highly Commended for our SLAPP Clamp product. As with all our products these were invented to improve Health & Safety on construction sites, something we are very passionate about at Brilliant Ideas”

Customer Service Award:

Winner

EssentialSkillz

Highly Commended

Concept Products

Commended

Martor Highly

Lyreco

Seton

Essential Skillz were quoted as saying: “We are honoured to accept the BSIF customer service award on behalf of EssentialSkillz and our fantastic Support team. We’re incredibly proud of them for winning this award for the second year in a row. It is always a joy to work alongside our colleagues in Support, and it’s wonderful to see that our customers feel the same! ”

Safety Excellence:

Safety Solutions: Based upon case studies submitted by members, these awards recognise major improvements in occupational safety as a result of a supplier/customer project created in 2018/2019.

Winner

Hunter Apparel Solutions

Commended

VPS UK Ltd Highly

Brilliant Ideas

Lyreco

Water Pollution Prevention Award 2020: Entrants must demonstrate a detailed understanding of their working environment in relation to preventing incidents that could lead to the pollution of the water environment, surface water or groundwater.

Joint Winners:

BilgeAway – River Canal Rescue

Loughborough University

Upon receiving their award River Canal Rescue commented: “RCR are over the moon to receive the award and being recognised as an important product to assist in protecting the environment and preventing pollution of our valuable waterways”

The BSIF Safety Awards 2021

The BSIF Safety Awards 2021 winners were announced during a digital event on 13th October 2021. The awards were hosted as part of the Safety & Health Excellence Awards by The ‘Voice of the Balls’ and Radio 2’s Chief Network Announcer Alan Dedicote.

The awards were reduced from the normal four categories to just two, a reflection of how the Covid 19 pandemic had continued to cause problems across industry.

Product Innovation Award 2021

Winner:

3M Welding Helmet G5-02

Highly Commended:

Guardian Quick Switch

3M™ E-A-R ™ Flexible Fit HA Earplug

Commended:

CleanSpace Steri-Plus Exhalation Filter

Shawcity QuantiFit 2

Customer Service Award 2021

Winner

Rapid Fire Supplies

Highly Commended

Red Wing UK Ltd

Martor UK Ltd

Commended

Swift360

Guardsman

Rapid Fire Supplies commented: “Rapid Fire Supplies are thrilled to have won the BSIF Customer Service Award 2021. Craig and Nikki have gone above and beyond to provide great customer service as part of their business, especially in this highly competitive market. It is extremely rewarding to be recognised for all the hard work.”

The awards are a celebration of Safety & Health and help to demonstrate the importance of the role it plays across all industries in the UK. It’s time to move away from the notion of the ‘Burden of Health & Safety’ to celebrating and truly recognising the vital role we all have in looking after employees whilst they are at work. The UK has one of the best health & safety records in the world, it is something to be proud of and something to be shouted about and that is the purpose of the BSIF Safety Awards.

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Cut knife accidents 06/12/2021

Identifying the hazards up front involving knife use is of paramount importance, says BSIF.

PLAN AND assess the risk for any work or project that involves cutting by eliminating dangerous fixed blades with safety knives, scissors or deburring tools. Correct planning/assessment could save you from life changing cut injuries or worse still! 

  • Being struck by a falling object or a cut from a hand knife accounts for over 10% of major injuries reported to HSE in the food and drink industries alone. 
  • Hand knife injuries typically account for between 25-50% of all lost time accidents in the plastics processing industry (HSE/Plastics Processors H&S Liaison Committee) 
  • 43,000 knife based reportable work place accidents in 2019* 
  • 58% of all workplace accidents involving manual tools were caused by knives* 

Knife cut injuries 

The Guidance statistics on the previous page are clearly showing us that knife injuries are a worrying occupational hazard for us all, at work or at home. Many suffer serious injuries that will affect their quality of life ongoing and sadly deaths do occur. 

There are also knock-on effects for business in lost revenue due to time off work, possible litigation issues and Corporate Social Responsibilities to uphold. 

Time now to take in this realisation of your own safety whilst undertaking jobs that need a knife. Don’t let lack of time or commercial pressures become a factor in your decision making when It comes to the next knife job. Try to think of the impact a knife injury could have on your life now and how it might ruin your quality of life in years to come. Imagine a tendon injury stopping you from playing your favourite sport or leisure pursuit. Imagine if you were not able to cradle your grandchildren. You owe that much to yourself, your family & your possible work colleagues. 

So what can we learn from the above? Knife injuries usually happen when a knife slips during cutting or trimming. The knife blade can come into contact with the workers other hand and, causing a laceration to the hand or fingers. 

What can we do to prevent such incidents? 

Let us look at how to make changes and eliminate the hazards in our places of work, this Hierarchy of control graphic is commonly used but shows a clear pathway to handle risk analysis: 

  • Where possible eliminate the need for knives to be used 
  • Substitute knives for other tools such as deburring tools and scissors 
  • Use an engineering solution to reduce the risk, such as changing tooling or moulds to reduce/ remove the need for cutting activity. 
  • Administrative – Ensure that there is a set knife policy to ensure that use of cutting tools Is managed. 
  • PPE – final line of defence. Use of suitable cut-resistant gloves/sleeves/garments to enhance protection from accidental cuts. 

After completing the risk assessment, if you still need to use a knife, choose a safety knife. 

HSE guidance

‘How to reduce hand knife injuries’ (PPS12 rev1) gives us a great description of types available: 

Group 1 – includes bladeless cutters, such as reel snails and disposable concealed blade knives that help to ensure that not only is the blade edge concealed, but also the remotest chance of injury during blade replacement is ruled out. 

Group 2 – (concealed blades) are cutters designed to conceal the blade edge from the possibility of personal injury. These are cutters with changeable blades. 

Group 3 – (fully automatic blade retraction) knives are designed to not rely on the operator to retract the blade. sometimes called intelligent cutters. Once the blade leaves the material being cut it automatically and immediately retracts into the handle. 

Group 4 – (spring-loaded blade retraction) Once cutting has begun, the operator removes their thumb from the slider. The blade will remain engaged with the material being cut, but as soon as the blade leaves the material. The blade will spring back into the safety of the knife handle. 

Group 5 – (manually-operated blade retraction) knives have to be manually retracted as well as manually extended. Therefore, if the knife is placed down the blade will remain exposed. 

Take a look at the knife itself before buying, assess its safety performance claims. Take a look at any testing or proof that the manufacturer has available that backs the products performance claims. This will allow you to make a better, more informed decision on whether this is right Safety knife for you. 

NB: Unfortunately there are NO ISO/CE/UKCA/BSi standards applicable for safety knives at this current time. The best internationally recognised generic product safety standard, including safety knives, is the German GS mark**. 

In the UK Safety knives are covered under the Provision and use of work equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not. 

What about your Safety knife policy? Consider the following points while making yours: 

  1. Elimination

  2. Specify the right knife 

  3. Ensure spare knives and blades are available 

  4. Provide safe storage for knives/blades 

  5. Specify the right PPE 

  6. Consider the working environment 

  7. Develop and deliver training 

  8. Checking & monitoring 

You now have your risk analysis, you know that you have to use a knife and you have selected the correct knife. What about the last line of defence? PPE or Personal Protective Equipment. 

Selection here is key: Is the risk of injury and the severity of the hazard low or high? 

This table can be used as a quick simple guide, but using a higher rated glove is always preferable assuming good grip, dexterity, comfort, size, touch sensitivity and general performance is acceptable. 

Example Highlighted: Risk of cut is 4 and hazard severity is 3, a Cut D Safety Glove would be seen as appropriate. If a glove offering D or higher is acceptable in all other aspects (some listed above) then this would also be considered acceptable. 

Featured below are some typical PPE examples. These take cut resistant yarns made from HPPE (High performance Polyethylene) Kevlar, Aramids, Dyneema and knit them into gloves, sleeves and even some forms of body protection. Coatings are sometimes added for grip and resistance to liquids. 

Featured below is the current glove standard and pictogram used for gloves in use against mechanical risks. The key shows the various glove ratings and how they are scored upon test. In general, the higher the score the higher the protection. 

For Cut, there are 2 methods, the first is a Coupe Test graded up to a maximum of 5. The second is the high cut test provided by TDM ISO 13997 and is graded alphabetically. 

The chart below tells us quickly how to navigate these test results. 

Coupe test method

High cut test method

Key considerations for hand protection with knife use: 

  • Secure grip for knife use and handling goods 
  • Level of dexterity 
  • Use and suitability with other PPE ie protective sleeves, aprons, shirts, coveralls 
  • Is there oil or liquids present 
  • Correct size and fit are crucial 
  • Hand protection required for other tasks (removing gloves often, ensuring to always put back on) 
  • Wear and tear, understanding when gloves are past their usable life span and need to be replaced (no longer protect) 

Do not compromise your safety and Health whatever the situation. If you are undertaking a cutting job. Stop and think. How can you keep your hands safe every day? 

* Statistic referral from German Social Accident Insurance 2020 

** Intertek guide to GS mark certification

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

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