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From the CEO's desk 14/09/2022

Alan Murray provides an update of what is happening in the world of PPE and explains how the BSIF have reacted to some of the recent industry event.

WELCOME TO my CEO Desk piece, following a blisteringly hot summer, where the macro-economic and geopolitical problems have taken all the headlines. We are clearly living in a time of great volatility, coupled with something of a political vacuum domestically, as the candidates in the Tory Leadership Contest attempt to convince their membership that they are the one to take the country forward.

Within the BSIF I can say that we have focussed on reacting to some of the industry events of the last few months and cementing our plans for strengthening the industry and the Federation for the coming years.

Perhaps the first market event (or shock) of the summer was the announcement from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that they were amending the instructions on the implementation of the UKCA and UKNI product approval processes. The changes were described as “easements” to the previously published guidance in order, in their words, “to further support businesses as they adapt to the UKCA regime”. 

Of the 4 specific easements cited, by far the most important was that where any PPE which had been CE conformity assessed and certified by non UK conformity assessment bodies (ie Notified Bodies) a manufacturer could now use that CE certification as the basis for declaring that product to be compliant with the UKCA regime. In the case of PPE the CE certificate must be a valid Module B certificate. This means that a manufacturer can apply the UKCA mark without the need to involve Approved Bodies scoped for PPE. This “easement” will last until the 31st of December 2027 or until the expiry of the Module B, CE certificate (whichever is sooner). 

Make no mistake, the acceptance of CE certification as the basis for UKCA marking is, in and of itself, “recognition” of the CE/EU Regulation and something that we had lobbied for, up to the signing of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement. This recognition is now here, some years later for existing product, albeit time limited. But it has to be recognised that many thousands of products from BSIF members have already gone through Approved Bodies for UKCA certification and new Approved Bodies have invested significantly in establishing themselves in GB to support the Regulations as they were previously set out. It is arguable that these investments by manufacturers and Approved Bodies have been unnecessary, at least within the original timeframes. 

This general announcement was followed up at the end of July with PPE specific guidance which did help, in some measure, to answer the huge volume of queries raised by the announcement of June 20th. The guidance published on July 26th by BEIS is available through this link https://tinyurl.com/mr2bwyfm

It is fair to say that these announcements caused have considerable upset and confusion in the market at Approval Bodies and at manufacturers and also I have to tell you with market surveillance authorities, but BSIF, as ever remain on-hand and available to support and clarify wherever possible.

Over the past months in this HSM column you will have seen, I hope, a feature on the BSIF publication “Pandemic Reflections – A review following the PPE crisis of 2020”. This features prominently in the May HSM issue and with the piece we had concluded with some 5 calls to action which we believed would significantly improve the quality of PPE and the functioning of our safety market. Of the 5 “calls for action” number 3 was the requirement for any Category II and Category III PPE which is on sale, but not adequately supported by the prescribed documentation to, immediately be the subject of market surveillance intervention without the need for further investigation to establish whether the PPE itself was indeed “unsafe”. For your information currently a product could not be deemed unsafe without the market surveillance authority carrying out risk assessments and testing of the product at approved bodies. We all know that this is a long and expensive process and unlikely to be undertaken except on rare occasions, meaning that non-compliant suspect and sub- standard PPE would continue to pose a threat to users and undermine the market.

On the 12th of July the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) announced that they would launch a new (following the UK’s departure from the EU) product “risk” assessment methodology to replace and improve on the EU Rapex system. The new UK system will be known as PRISM and will support the legislation surrounding Consumer Protection and General Product Safety legislation. This system, as alluded to in the previous paragraph will still involve a 6 stage process, beginning with the identification of a non-conforming product, to investigative and testing steps through to the final stage of risk management and determining intervention by the market surveillance authority. However I am pleased to tell you that Category III PPE (along with items such as chemicals and cosmetics) will sit outside of the 6 stage process and should an item of Category III be found at stage 1 (the identification of a non-conforming product) it will immediately be deemed as “high risk” and be subject to direct intervention. So while OPSS did not fully accept my lobbying and argument to recognise Category II and III PPE as exceptions the acceptance of Category III items demanding immediate classification as “high risk” is genuine progress, with I have to say the voice of BSIF being listened to. These change will make a positive contribution to wearer safety and a fairer market.

On a less positive note, you will be aware that we have lobbied extensively for more responsibility to be required of the on-line market places when selling PPE, and that this was to be taken up as part of the OPSS review of the Product Safety Framework. The review sought stakeholder consultations during the summer of 2021 with the findings then used to form “Recommendations” which would be subject to a consultation period, before being enacted or amended into legislation. The recommendations were indeed all presented for ministerial sign off prior to publication. However the ministerial resignations and the subsequent reshuffles from the 4th and 5th of July saw the minister responsible, Paul Scully, moved from BEIS to the Department of Levelling Up, meaning that there will be a further delay to the process. We still anticipate worthwhile developments to come on this front, but the chaos at Westminster means we will again have to wait for this central issue to be resolved.

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

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Pledge to protect 06/10/2022

PPE buyers and end users are being urged by The British Safety Industry Federation to follow a simple process when specifying PPE products to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Alan Murray explains why.

FROM HARD hats and high-visibility clothing, to masks and hearing protection to goggles, gloves, face shields and footwear, personal protective equipment (PPE) is widely available to protect people from head to toe in hazardous work environments. When health and safety risks can’t be completely eliminated, PPE plays a critical role in safeguarding workers from all kinds of dangers including chemicals and respiratory hazards, slips, trips and falls, electrical hazards, extreme temperatures, noise and falling objects. 

The need for PPE in the UK is well-established and many resources are available to help find the right PPE for the job. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), for example, has its own online PPE portal at https://www.hse.gov.uk/ppe where anyone can access free advice, support and up-to-date information on PPE selection, use and maintenance as well as on best practice, standards and regulations. 

Supplying your workers with PPE however, doesn’t automatically mean they will be protected. You need to know whether the PPE you buy meets required standards and will perform as it claims. You must also be confident that your suppliers are able to comply with the PPE Regulations. 

Why are there substandard and non-compliant products on the market? 

Unfortunately, not all PPE is created equal. The law states that PPE must be correctly tested and certified to comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2018, but not every supplier of PPE follows the rules. A lack of market surveillance and enforcement in the UK means it can be difficult to distinguish responsible suppliers from less responsible ones. This has led to an increase in the quantity of substandard products being sold here.

The COVID pandemic shone a light on just how easily substandard products can come onto the UK market. At the height of the health crisis, more than a million masks in use in the NHS in England had to be withdrawn over safety concerns – and this was far from an isolated incident. 

Employers must ensure that they only provide fully compliant PPE for their workforce otherwise they will be contravening safety legislation. A number of items are available that claim UKCA and or CE approvals but, in reality, they have not all been appropriately certified. In our experience these products just do not perform as they should, putting lives at risk and, in doing so, exposing businesses and individuals to prosecution for failing to protect staff.

What can you do about it?

As a buyer or specifier of PPE you are responsible for ensuring that the product is properly certified and approved but you will not have the knowledge and resources to validate suppliers’ claims. However, the BSIF offers a supplier verification scheme - The Registered Safety Supplier (RSS) scheme - to help. Just look for the Shield. 

Companies displaying the scheme’s shield have signed a binding declaration that the PPE and safety equipment they offer meets the correct standards, fully complies with the regulations and is UKCA and or CE marked. This means that by using a Registered Safety Supplier you can be confident you will receive genuine products that are fit for purpose as well as genuine information and guidance. 

Benefits of specifying the scheme 

As mentioned above, verifying that your supplier is a Registered Safety Supplier gives you reassurance that the necessary checks have been performed and you know your supplier is committed to high standards. Members of the RSS scheme must fulfil the following criteria in order to gain admittance and carry the shield: sell only certified PPE; meet all responsibilities of the PPE Regulations; submit their products for random independent performance testing; train public facing staff in the BSIF’s Safe Supply Course (a publicly recognised qualification to educate those selling PPE and safety products); maintain a quality policy; hold necessary authorisation for service provision; have the capability to carry out any necessary product recalls and trade honestly and ethically. 

All Registered Safety Suppliers are audited to confirm compliance with the scheme’s requirements. A full list of registered suppliers is available to view at https://www.bsif.co.uk/rsss/

Specifying registered suppliers and the scheme will help your business to keep your workforce safe and to meet your obligations under The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, which places a duty on employers to ensure that PPE is properly assessed before use to make sure it is fit for purpose.

Remember, when buying PPE: Check/ Select/ Protect 

You can’t get from PPE selection to protection without checking whether your products are from a trusted supplier. The quickest and easiest way of doing this is to specify a Registered Safety Supplier. 

We, at the British Safety Industry Federation, are urging PPE buyers and end users to follow this simple three-step process when buying PPE to ensure that the products you buy are fit for purpose:

  1. CHECK your supplier is BSIF registered. BSIF Audited suppliers are compliant, competent and trustworthy. Don’t settle for less.

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

  3. PROTECT your workforce and your business. Registered Safety Suppliers go above and beyond, helping to keep your people safe and helping your business to thrive. 

Specify RSSS today 

To find out more about the benefits of specifying a BSIF registered supplier in your supply chain contact the BSIF today. You will also be able to access free support and resources designed to improve your PPE procurement processes and to help safeguard your workforce, your business and your reputation.

Anyone can sell safety but you shouldnt buy safety from just anyone: Always specify the shield. 

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

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HSE Bulletin on Ear Looped Masks 13/07/2022

SINCE THE start of the Covid 19 pandemic and the PPE crisis we have seen FFP masks with “ear loops” being placed on the UK market. It has been apparent for a considerable time that there was significant concern over their ability to provide an adequate seal and to protect the wearer.

Use of such products were outlawed in the NHS from as far back as September 2020 and following considerable encouragement from BSIF the HSE has completed research on the efficacy of ear loop masks/respirators as tight-fitting RPE. 

HSE is now in a position to issue a safety alert to inform industry, employers, duty holders and workers that where tight fitting RPE has been identified as a control measure, as laid out in Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH and in INDG479) they should be aware that ear loop masks/respirators, including those provided with clips, ‘snuggers’ or other means of tightening the fit of the respirator at the back of the head, are highly unlikely to provide adequate protection for vast majority of employees. This includes ear loop masks/respirators which are CE or UKCA marked and applies in all work-related situations in GB.

This is because a tight seal to the wearers face is unachievable in the majority of cases. 

Therefore HSE recommends that ear loop masks/respirators should not be used in workplace settings where tight fitting respiratory equipment (RPE) is required. 

The HSE Safety Alert can be downloaded here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/ear-loop-respirators.htm

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Changes to guidance on UKCA marking 13/07/2022

ON THE 20 June the Government amended their guidance on the requirements for UKCA marking across many product sectors including of course PPE.

The full guidance can be found by following this link. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/placing-manufactured-goods-on-the-market-in-great-britain

The changes are described as “easements” to the previously published guidance in order, in their words, “to further support businesses as they adapt to the UKCA regime”. 

Of the 4 specific easements cited, by far the most important is that where any PPE which has been CE conformity assessed and certified by non UK conformity assessment bodies (ie Notified bodies) a manufacturer can now use that CE certification as the basis for declaring that product to be compliant with the UKCA regime. In the case of PPE the CE certificate must be a valid Module B certificate. This means that a manufacturer can apply the UKCA mark without the need to involve Approved Bodies scoped for PPE. This “easement” will last until the 31 December 2027 or until the expiry of the Module B, CE certificate (whichever is sooner). See page 10 of the Guidance.

The period by which it is acceptable to affix the UKCA mark by a label or on accompanying documentation has been extended until the 31st of December 2025.

In the Government’s communication on this matter they also highlight that the existing stock already placed on the market under the regulation that applied at the time it was so placed, can continue to be sold-on. This is not a change to previous guidance just the Government underlining that there is no need to re-test or re-work product so placed on the GB market. 

The 4th easement cited clarifies the rules as they apply to “spares”.

The acceptance of CE certification as the basis for UKCA marking is in and of itself “recognition” of the CE/EU Regulation something that we had lobbied for, up to the signing of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement. It is now here, some years later for existing product, albeit time limited. Many thousands of products from BSIF members have already gone through Approved Bodies for UKCA certification and new Approved Bodies have invested in establishing themselves in GB to support the Regulations as they were previously set out. It is arguable that these investments by manufacturers and Approved Bodies have been unnecessary, at least within the original timeframes.

With the revised guidance, there are other specific details to be clarified and once that has been done we will update everyone.

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Water Pollution Prevention Award 13/07/2022

BSIF ARE delighted to announce the Water Pollution Prevention Award to the longstanding suite of awards in the UK Safety and Health Industry, is now open for entries.

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 Water Pollution Prevention Award is a fantastic opportunity for your environmental efforts to be recognised, providing great PR both inside your business and to the wider market.

The award is…
Open to all businesses and organisations operating in the UK

Key Criteria: 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** highlighting……

  • Potential pollution risks / hazards identified

  • The consequences of not preventing pollution incidents

  • What improvement changes were made to business operations and how these were implemented

  • Training of staff including Health & Safety

  • Potential for replication

The award brochure and entry form can be downloaded here:

https://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/WPP-Award.pdf

https://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Template-for-entries-Water-Pollution-Prevention-Award-2022.pdf

The closing date for entries is Friday 22nd July. The winners will be announced at a live ceremony during the Contamination & Geotech event taking place at The NEC, 14th – 15th September 2022

www.contaminationexpo.com/

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Flood Expo 2022 13/07/2022

BSIF ARE delighted to be working in partnership with The Flood Expo, Europe’s largest dedicated event for flood management professionals which will welcome 2000+ visitors to the NEC, Birmingham on the 14-15 September 2022. We explore what’s in store for visitors and exhibitors in 2022.

Learning & Knowledge Sharing - Over the course of the two days, the event will play host to more than 100 expert speakers, across 60 CPD accredited session, covering key topics within flood prediction, prevention and response. Dedicated theatres include: Forecasting and Prediction, Infrastructure and Drainage, and Property Flood Resilience and the Keynote. You will be able make important connections at the new Local Authority & Agency Lounge and free to attend networking events.

Innovation - With innovation at the heart of the exhibition, the revamped layout of the exhibition floor provides space for ground-breaking suppliers to showcase their solutions in a live environment. This year, the event welcomes the likes of NOAQ who will host hands on demonstrations of their flood barriers in addition to organisations, property defence solutions and sustainable urbans drainage solutions. Visitors will also be able to get up close and personal with large machinery and vehicles such as excavators and emergency response boats.

Website link: https://hubs.la/Q017Q3Mq0

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CEO's desk - June-22 04/07/2022

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just published a new 10 year strategy, supported by a business plan for the coming year which supports the implementation of the new strategy. Alan Murray provides an overview.

THE STRATEGY document titled “Protecting People and Places” heralds a significant shift in the HSE’s orientation and sphere of activity. The clue is clearly in the title and sees the HSE expanding its’ role from the custodian of worker protection. The HSE mission now articulated, as protecting people and places sees their vision as much more holistic where they will be dedicated to protecting people and places and helping everyone to lead safer and healthier lives. The strategy cites external societal changes from the emergence of the gig economy, the development of new technologies and supporting the country’s commitment to net zero.

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the subsequent inquiry the HSE has been appointed as the Building Safety Regulator and as a result of Brexit they now have an extended role in the regulation of chemicals, formerly managed under REACH.

In addition to the familiar challenges of Health and Safety at work the HSE will now have responsibilities covering the safety of 12,500 buildings, over 20,000 chemicals on the GB market and over 300 biocide and pesticide substances to be reviewed following the exit from the EU.

The HSE budget has been strengthened to provide resource and in year one of the 10 year plan they forecast a spend of £301m with two thirds of that money coming from central government and the balance from recovered costs and external income. By comparison the spend in 2020 totalled £230m. 

The strategy outlines the executive’s new responsibilities are clearly widespread and complex challenges, and one has to fear some loss of focus on occupational safety and health. Since 2016 when the then minister Justin Tomlinson claimed “safety was sorted” we have seen a gradual and sustained emphasis on ill health and indeed the new strategy infrequently mentions “safety”.

I have briefly outlined some of the expanded responsibilities that the HSE now embraces but in fairness the first strategic objective listed does cover their commitment to reduce work related ill health but with a very specific focus on mental health and stress. 

The strategy document highlights that the country has one of the lowest rates of fatal and non-fatal work-related injury across Europe achieved through having well-established standards for safety, recognised and understood by industry. These have helped to reduce death and major injury, particularly in construction and manufacturing. 

However, this is not the same for work-related ill health with current trends showing this is increasing. The most commonly reported causes of work related ill-health in Great Britain are now stress, depression, or anxiety. Mental health is indeed a very serious and complex issue and tackling it will present a formidable challenge to HSE. In 2020 there were over 32m days lost to work related ill health with nearly 18 million days lost attributed to stress anxiety and depression. It is therefore easy to see why this area is a priority but one wonders if HSE, albeit supported in some way by the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care, are the correct agency to address the problem.

In addition to the focus on mental health, occupational lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders are also recognised as areas for strategic attention before the plan moves on to Building Safety, the support of net zero and the new innovations that will be required to deliver a greener future with de-carbonisation and the emerging use of hydrogen.

I sincerely hope that “safety” does not become marginalised, alongside the HSE expanded responsibilities, though it does feel as if we are continuing down that path.

As most of you know the HSE is responsible for the market surveillance of PPE in the workplace and you will have heard me complaining many times that this activity is well short of what it should be. Of product safety and PPE in the strategy document, despite the recent experience of covid and the ensuing PPE crisis, there is not a mention. Nothing.

BSIF will continue our market surveillance through the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, which continues to be strengthened and recognised by those procuring PPE and on that subject I am very proud to report that in the Office for Product Safety and Standards, Regulatory Excellence Awards 2022, BSIF came runners up for the work done in Motorcycling PPE led by Paul Varnsverry. 

This is continuing recognition of the regulatory work done by the Federation and its’ members and it follows the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme being a finalist in the 2021 awards.

Market surveillance is essential to ensure PPE performs, and wearers kept safe. We are dedicated to this task but we lack a Regulator’s authority. Frankly if not for BSIF’s work, little would be done in this critical area. 

The HSE strategy and business plan can be downloaded from the BSIF website https://tinyurl.com/5a2bwdbt​ and https://tinyurl.com/bdhdecsn​

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

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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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