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Technology can improve road safety 09/12/2020

DESPITE MORE than 50 years of drink drive campaigns, road traffic accidents caused by driving after consuming alcohol are showing a rise in numbers.

When the preliminary Department of Transport figures for 2018 were released in August 2020, they showed that the total number of crashes, where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit, rose by 3% on the previous year to 5,890, an average of around 16 crashes a day. The figures also showed that 23 people are killed or injured as a result of drink driving in the UK every day!

These statistics highlight that we have a significant road safety issue which has personal, economic and societal impact for both individual and commercial road users. As a result, following the publication of the figures, we carried out some research with YouGov. Our objective was to understand Public attitudes to drink driving, and also to the use of technology to help prevent a further increase in drink driving related accidents.

The respondents in the research sample all had a full driving licence and consume alcohol, and when asked about their attitude to drinking and driving, the findings showed that more than half of these respondents would drive after consuming alcohol. Although, interestingly, this figure reduces after more than one drink, with only 14% saying they would drive after consuming two drinks and just 2% after consuming three or more.

The YouGov findings also indicated that men are more likely than women to drive after consuming alcohol – less than half of female respondents (47%) said they would drive after one drink, compared with 62% of male respondents.

As one in nine drink drive convictions occur ‘the morning after’, we were keen to undertand the attitude to driving the morning after consuming three or more alcoholic drinks. Just over a third of respondents (35%) would drive as normal but again women are less likely to drive the next morning, 27% of women compared with 43% of men would drive as normal. 

This research precedes the publication of a PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) study which is part of the Government’s assessment of interlocks. The devices are fitted into a vehicle and require the driver to take a breathlyser test before the engine will start. There are mechanisms available to prevent circumvention of the system and when installed mean that if a driver is over the limit, they will not be able to drive their vehicle.

The PACTS study, which is due to be published before the end of 2020, has investigated the feasibility of using this technology as part of drink drive offender rehabilitation programme and will draw on existing research, experience and expertise from countries around the globe where interlocks are required as part of offender programmes.

Offender rehabilitation programmes been operating in countries such as Australia, America and parts of Europe for many years and the data gathered demonstrates that use of interlocks in a rehabilitation programme can be effective. In America, the evidence suggests that interlock devices have prevented 3 million journeys where drink would have impaired the driver. Closer to home, a study carried out in Sweden showed an 80% reduction in RTAs among those who opt for the rehabilitation programme in the five years after taking part, compared with the five years before. While in Holland, a research paper published earlier this year showed that only 4% of those on the programme reoffended in the two years after the programme was completed, compared with 8% in the control group, a finding which is statistically relevant.

So what do the UK Public feel about the use of interlock technology and the introduction of rehabilitiaton programmes? The findings of the YouGov research showed that four in five respondents (82%) support the introduction of interlock devices for vehicles which transport large volumes of passengers, for example buses, coaches and school tranport, as a safety mechanism. There was a higher level of support for this among women, with 57% strongly supporting the step compared with 49% of men. However the support was strongest among respondents with children (51%) with 67% of those with three or more children under 18 in their household strongly supporting this kind of initiative. 

When it comes to drink drive offender programmes, there is public support for repeat offenders to have interlock devices fitted before their driving licence is returned (83%) and for first time offenders (56%).

We must wait a few more weeks before we learn the result of the PACTS study but the research indicates that the use of interlocks for drink drive offenders has broad support from the General Public. If the PACTS report is in agreement, the next step would be a trial of the technology. We eagerly await publication of the report!

This article was provided to BSIF by BSIF Member Graham Hurst, Marketing Manager Impairment, Draeger Safety UK Research

Respondents had a full driving licence and consumer alcohol (a sample of 1336 adults). All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2162 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 21st September 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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UKCA Mark what it means for PPE 09/12/2020

THE BRITISH Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) hosted a webinar on the 18 November 2020 to assist the Safety, Health and PPE market in understanding the requirements of the UK’s new regulatory regime (UKCA), which will come into effect on the 1 January 2021.

The webinar included a brief look back at the impacts on the PPE market caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, before moving on to update the market on the UK’s new conformity assessment process for placing PPE on the market.

Speakers included Alan Murray CEO of BSIF, Roy Wilders, Registered Safety Supplier Scheme Manager at BSIF.

This webinar is now available on demand by registering here:

https://events.streamgo.co.uk/UKCA-Mark-What-It-Means/register?redirect=%2FUKCA-Mark-What-It-Means

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From the CEO's desk - December 2020 09/11/2020

As managing the Covid-19 crisis continues to take time away from other important issues, Alan Murray looks at what the PPE industry can do to ensure a more sustainable future.

2020 HAS been the most incredible year in our working lifetimes, and the social and economic effects will be with us for a long time to come. Covid 19 has caused deep disruption and the effects are far from over, with the pandemic still driving events across many societies.

As we come towards the end of this year, we have to look forward with optimism and ensure that the phrase “new normal” which we heard so often, actually has a chance to become a “better normal” for us all. There are still many changes that we have to accommodate and absorb, not least being those caused by the UK leaving the European Union. I do not intend to dwell on Brexit in this column or the impacts on the Safety and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) industry, as there is ample coverage in the accompanying “Guide to the UK Safety Industry” publication, rather I would like to look beyond that onrushing event.

Dealing with, and managing the Covid 19 crisis has seen many of our other priorities displaced, if not overlooked. The political imperatives on environment and sustainability issues seem to be an area where focus has temporarily been lost, but I would like to reassure you that those in the PPE industry continue to work to ensure that this vital industry makes its own contribution to the “green deal” and a more sustainable future. The following content comes from, and is inspired by work currently underway through the European Safety Federation (ESF), seeking to encourage the authorities to act and support the efforts of PPE producers, to allow our industry to avoid needless waste. 

There are already many laudable manufacturer led initiatives in this area with a focus on packaging reduction being one of the most obvious however, the Covid crisis has thrust PPE into the public consciousness like never before, and in the pandemic we have seen huge amounts of disposable PPE being used. Vital of course, but in itself also a significant source of waste.

The current proposals on sustainability being championed, as I said through ESF splits the sustainability challenge into 4 different categories, where we see opportunities for waste reduction and environmental improvement. These are 1. The printed user instructions 2. The packaging 3. The product and 4. The logistics.

In this column I would like to deal with the problem of printed user instructions. This element, it could be argued, represents to most obvious area where significant waste could be effectively and quite easily addressed. The PPE Regulation 2016/425 requires manufacturers to provide these instructions in printed form in the appropriate languages with each and every piece of PPE, in their smallest commercial units. The purpose of “user instructions” is to inform on the protective properties of the product, and provide instructions for its safe use and information on maintenance and care. However, much of the information required by the Regulation to be included in the instructions seems to be “technical information” which would really only be necessary for specialists seeking to select and maintain the correct PPE. Often this information is of no particular use or to the wearer, meaning that the instructions for use are not read, and their main stated purpose is lost. 

In this discussion on printed user instructions accompanying each piece of PPE, we are looking at this topic in 2 categories, separating professional users (B2B) and private / consumers, but first let us look at some of the impacts.

Based on estimates made by ESF, there are 700 million pieces of PPE traded in Europe each year (in its smallest commercial units). A typical weight of accompanying printed user instructions is 15g but there are instruction books for some complex products which go to 700g. All of this adds up to 10,500 tonnes of paper each year which in turn requires 250,000 trees! 10,500 tonnes of paper equates to a volume of 19,000 square metres filling 625 containers. Trying to estimate the journey that the paper and the user instructions then make, is very difficult, but has to include the miles from the paper mill to the printer, then to the PPE manufacturer then onward with the PPE through import and distribution before finally to waste or recycling centres after, in most cases, not being read. The environmental impact of printed user instructions accompanying every piece of PPE is significant.

As I said earlier we are looking at the issue and separating professional use at work, and consumer / private use. The vast majority of PPE consumption is through use at work. And in this case the wearer will not make decisions on purchasing or selecting the PPE. This must be done by the employer. The employer is responsible for selecting and sourcing the PPE and importantly by law, must provide the wearer with all the necessary training. Of note, of course is the fact that once the PPE has been selected and the training provided the wearer will typically use the same or fresh items of the same PPE, day after day after day. So in a work environment where the employer is responsible for the PPE it is vital that they are provided with all the necessary information enabling them to select and maintain whatever PPE is necessary for their workforces and then to train the workers on its correct use, to ensure that they are safe at all times.

Surely in this context all the PPE information can be provided separately to the employer who will then pass on all the necessary information to the wearer, without it having to be included in a printed form with each and every piece of PPE! If a wearer does however wish to see manufacturer’s instructions this can be easily facilitated through a digital mechanism like a QR code affixed to the product. This way much more information can be made available, without the need for printed user instructions.

In the case of the private consumer where the wearer is making their own decisions on PPE selection then access to the necessary information is very important. But it is vital to stress that this information should be available before the product is selected, not after it has been purchased. So in our petitioning we are calling for all relevant information to be available digitally where PPE is offered for sale. If this process were adopted the need for printed user instructions would also be removed or greatly reduced, even outside of the work environment.

I hope that you will agree that PPE can play its part in the sustainability drive, and that a very quick win would be to allow manufacturers to provide user instructions electronically rather than insisting on them always being in a printed format. This is what is currently being proposed to the EU Commission.

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

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From the CEO's desk - November 2020 15/10/2020

This month, Alan Murray provides an update on regulations for Covid related PPE and the future regulatory requirements as the UK moves to a new conformity assessment regime, under the UKCA marking protocol.

2020 HAS been for all, dominated by the sudden and dramatic upheavals caused by Covid 19 and the ensuing devastation to lives and the economy. In the Safety Industry we commonly discuss statistics, as they reflect health and safety performance at work. Well this year so far, we have seen a new statistic where the UK reported over 42,000 deaths from a virus where PPE and safety products had a vital role to play, in ensuring that that figure was not even a great deal higher.

I am sure that you do not need to read here of the circumstances that surrounded the PPE supply or dire lack of it, or hear more information on some of the shocking products that were placed on the market. Therefore, I plan in this column to update on regulations for Covid related PPE and the future regulatory requirements as the UK moves to a new conformity assessment regime, under the UKCA marking protocol. 

Firstly I would like to deal with the apparently continual evolution of the guidance produced by BEIS / OPSS on the placing of, Covid 19 related, PPE on the market under the easement of conformity assessment to the Regulation (EU) 2016/425. The easement 2020/403 was raised as a recommendation by the EU in March and subsequently adopted by the UK. The recommendation stated, it must be remembered, that decisions on applying the easement is for individual EU countries and their regulators to determine the conditions on which it can be applied in each member state. Somewhat remarkably the UK has now published our 7th version of the guidance and while by its nature the easement is “temporary” it is clear that it remains relevant as the UK still needs to ensure adequate supply of Covid related PPE, as we face the winter and the potential second wave of the virus. The guidance is designed to make sure PPE is available, is safe for use and does not mean that we have a long term legacy threat of non - compliant PPE in the market for years into the future. This let us be clear, is a very obvious risk.

The latest guidance is available to download at whttps://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Guidance-for-businesses-high-volume-manufacture-of-ppe-version-7.pdf and I would like to draw your attention to Section 7 (page 5) perhaps the most significant change in the new guidance. The new guidance still requires the submission to and confirmation of acceptance by a Notified Body of PPE for conformity assessment. However if you wish to begin selling this product prior to the completion of the full CE conformity assessment process you must get the approval from the market surveillance authority (MSA), who are responsible for confirming that it meets the necessary essential health and safety requirements. 

This approval must be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or HSENI in Northern Ireland. You can apply for this approval through e - mailing MarketSurvPPE@hse.gov.uk. (If PPE is exclusively for private consumers use Trading Standards are the relevant MSA).

This is clearly an important requirement and a key difference from previous guidance. 

There are many other conditions carried over from previous versions which of course must also be adhered to, and there will be PPE that is at various stages of the easement assessment process. Guidance in this area can be found in Section 10 of the document which addresses actions now required under “Transitional arrangements”. Please pay particular attention to this Section as there may now be steps you need to take that were previously unforeseen.

The guidance is primarily for manufacturers of PPE but of course importers obligations are also laid out. These can be found in Section 9.

UKCA Mark

Moving into the very near future, we are all aware the UK has withdrawn from the EU and we will move forward with a UK specific conformity assessment regime for PPE. BEIS and OPSS have just published the guidance on the use of the UKCA mark.

The “Guidance” package published was quite involved, dealing with the status of Notified Bodies who in the UK will become known as Approved Bodies, all the way through to the application of the UKCA mark itself. There are also 5 separate pieces of guidance referring to the situation of trade in goods, in, out of, and through Northern Ireland. 

As the situation remains fluid I will deal mainly with the use of the UKCA mark here, although full guidance pieces as published are available on the BSIF website. I will also try to restrict my information to areas that are not subject to the ongoing political negotiations.
Please be aware that my comments are made in good faith they should not be solely relied on for any decisions that you make. 

The guidance published by BEIS / OPSS relates to 17 pieces of EU originated legislation which have now been adopted into UK legislation. These enactments, all from the EU’s “New Approach”, cover a very wide range of manufactured goods, including PPE, all now moving from the CE regime to the UKCA process. 

Because of the number of items of legislation covered, the guidance published is very“ high level” and general in nature and for us in the PPE market it does, in no way answer all the detailed questions necessary to effect a successful and efficient migration to the new rules. The PPE regulations are of course arguably more complex than many of the other regulations that are coming across.
That said, the best and most obvious way to approach the changes is to know and understand, that for PPE the current Regulation (EU) 2016/425 will be applied but with amendments which overlay a UK “ised” presentation. 
I would like to tell you that BSIF will host a webinar in November to ensure that we reach as wide an audience as possible and best inform on the details as they become clear. BEIS / OPSS will also participate in the webinar. Please watch out for details and ensure that you register!

At this point I would highlight the following:

  • The new UKCA mark regime will come into effect on January 1st 2021

  • Products in compliance and CE marked can still be place on the UK market during 2021. I highlight this as there has been some general misunderstanding on this point. Where there has been no change in the “standard”.

  • Current harmonised EN standards will become UK “Designated Standards”.

  • From January 1st 2022 product must (also) be in compliance with UKCA

  • Current Notified Bodies in the UK, responsible for conformity assessment decisions will become “Approved Bodies” and they will retain their current Notified Body number.

  • PPE can carry both UKCA and the CE mark as long as they are compliant with both processes.

As I have said previously full details of the process are not yet available but I can tell that there are no plans to change any technical requirements for products.

For information, included below is the link to UK guidance on using the UKCA mark as far as it goes: 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-the-ukca-mark-from-1-january-2021

In closing I would just remind you to look out for the BSIF UKCA mark webinar and sincerely wish you good health, in the uncertain months ahead.

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

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BSIF Safety Awards 2020 01/10/2020

THE BSIF Safety Awards 2020, which form part of the Safety & Health Excellence (SHE) Awards, have now been rescheduled to be announced on Wednesday 28th April 2021.

The event had been scheduled to take place in November 2020 but with the ongoing pandemic the decision has been made to move the event, which will be staged at the Vox, NEC, Birmingham, in order to give more clarity to attendees. The evening normally sees over 500 guests attend and celebrate the best of innovation, service and excellence within our industry and it is an excellent opportunity for networking within the Health & Safety sector.

Tickets are now available, for more information please go to:

https://www.she-awards.com/she-awards-home

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Insight to RSSS 30/09/2020

ALL PPE must be correctly tested and certified to meet the appropriate European standard. Unfortunately, the quantity of non-approved product being sold into the UK is on the increase. Such products should not be used for business because they contravene safety legislation.

A number of items are available that claim CE approvals but in reality they have not been appropriately certified. Even worse, some items are in fact counterfeits of existing products. In our experience these products just do not perform as they should, putting lives at risk and again exposing the user to prosecution.

To help combat this, the BSIF has created the Registered Safety Supplier (RSS) scheme. Companies displaying the scheme’s logo have signed a binding declaration that the safety equipment they offer meets the appropriate standards, fully complies with the PPE regulations and is appropriately CE marked.

All Registered Safety Suppliers are independently audited to confirm compliance with the scheme’s requirements. Remember, by using a Registered Safety Supplier you can be sure you will only be supplied with genuine, appropriately approved product and you will receive sound advice without any attempt to mislead you.

To see how the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme enhances UK Safety & Health follow the link

https://www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk/about-us/registered-safety-supplier-scheme-benefits/

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Safer Highways 30/09/2020

BSIF ARE pleased to announce that we have forged another strong relationship with the team at Safer Highways who are dedicated to delivering safety in their sector. The Safer Highway Group join us as associate members and we have reciprocated in joining Safer Highways.

Safer Highways is a collaborative programme, supported by some of the UK’s leading safety and well being experts from across the whole highways sector. The purpose of the programme is to keep health, safety and well being at the forefront of the highways industry and to help drive awareness, strong leadership, effective communication and best practice across all levels in our sector. 

Their vision is that the highways sector becomes a beacon of best practice for the good management of all health, safety and well being issues, and that other sectors look to them as leaders in this field.

We look forward to working closely with the Safer Highways team for the mutual benefit of both organisations members and helping to improve the Safety of the UK Highways for both Highways workers and users.

https://www.saferhighways.co.uk/

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Seasonal PPE 30/09/2020

IN THE UK, we enjoy some of the most varied weather patterns in the world. It’s part of what makes up Britain and gives us something to discuss over a cup of tea and a pack of Hobnobs, so we adapt and learn to cope with it. Similarly, in the world of safety it’s so important to make sure you adapt to the weather, ensuring you’re protected without compromising your health.

So, here’s some suggestions when selecting PPE and workwear in the four seasons to stay safe and healthy.

Winter

It made sense to start here, seeing as we’re clearly heading fast into it! The obvious threat to UK workers is the cold temperatures and freezing and icy conditions as well as there being less light during the day. When selecting PPE and workwear for this season, it pays to bear in mind the following:

  • Layer up – this is the best way to ensure you’re kept warm, because between each layer is a barrier of air which acts as a further insulator. Start with thermal base layers, followed by a t-shirt or polo shirt and a pair of trousers. Then a mid-layer like a fleece or lightweight softshell and depending on how cold it is, a shell jacket on top to keep the rain out. 
  • Also, don’t forget your extremities which is often where the most heat escapes i.e. head, hands and feet. You can look after these by ensuring you have a decent hat or helmet liner, a good pair of thermal gloves and thermal socks to ensure sub-zero temperatures don’t make you ill.
  • Make sure you have your hi-vis garments up-to-date. With the nights fully drawn in, it’s likely that operatives will be on site when it’s dark and whilst floodlights and other lighting solutions help, it’s important that your hi-vis garments aren’t worn out and not so reflective. Most hi-vis garments will last for 25 washes which isn’t many when you’re talking about trousers, polo shirts, fleeces etc.

Spring

As the country makes its way out of the freeze, and we get a hint of the summer that lies ahead, ‘April showers’ are inevitable. Along with this, the temperatures, whilst varying will generally be increasing, so getting the balance between staying dry and regulating your body temperature is important. 

The following are a few tips for selecting PPE in the springtime:

  • Make sure your garments are not only waterproof, but breathable too. This means that the garment keeps the rain out, but allows the perspiration generated whilst working, to escape, consequently improving the comfort of the garment and allowing the wearer to focus on the job in hand. EN343 is the standard for Waterproof & Breathable Protective Clothing, and the most effective garments will be certified to EN343 Class 3:3. The two classes represent water penetration resistance and breathability on a scale of 1 to 3.
  • With the unpredictable weather at this time of year, again, it’s good to layer up with thinner layers, rather than having one thick layer to keep you warm. This way, when you begin to get warm whilst working, instead of taking off your one warm layer and being exposed to cooler temperatures, you remove a thin layer of warmth which will make it cooler without sacrificing all your thermal protection.
  • Again, with the temperatures broadly rising, it’s also worth considering garments with cooling or sweat wicking properties. There are many options available and these can be worn layered with warmer layers to create the best of both worlds.

Summer

It’s this time of year that everyone begins to feel good. The skies are blue, and the sun is out (mostly), but don’t let this fool you into thinking you can be carefree about safety. The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 does require employers to consider work environments, which includes the weather, so here’s a few tips when updating your PPE for the summer:

  • Use garments with UV protective properties. There’s a lot of options out there, including cheap products that don’t offer the protection required, so make sure your garments are certified to EN13758-2 which relates to the Solar UV protective properties of fabrics. Also, whilst it sounds contradictory, wear long sleeved garments as much as is comfortable. It’ll protect your arms from the UV coming from the sun, and if you work in an environment with insect problems, it will help with that.
  • Mince pies, peepers, whatever you call your eyes, it’s important to ensure they’re protected during the summer months. Whilst it will take seconds for damage to occur if you stare directly at the sun, not many partake in this kind of activity so it will take time for UV damage to develop. But still, make sure that you wear tinted safety glasses with certified UV protection whilst working outside. The standard to look for is EN172 which specifies the requirements for sun glare filters used in personal eye-protectors for industrial use.
  • Don’t forget sun screen and remember to re-apply it throughout the day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends you ‘apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15+ liberally and re-apply every two hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.’ Also, there’s plenty of other options for protecting yourself from UV. If you don’t require a safety helmet, wear a hat or head covering of some variety, and if you do need to wear a safety helmet, make sure it’s vented and consider other compatible accessories such as neck capes.

Autumn

As the leaves begin to tumble, the temperature begins to drop and the rain begins to fall, there’s something whimsical and cosy about Autumn. It’s also the time of year when working conditions can be lethal, so pay attention to the following to help you make the right choices with your PPE:

  • With all the rain that comes our way at this time of year, it’s important to make sure you select your footwear carefully and look after your feet. Wet feet can cause a condition called trench foot which is caused by lengthy exposure to wet and cold environments, and it’s not a comfortable condition to have. It can be avoided by making sure your boots have a breathable waterproof membrane and that if they get wet, you make sure you dry them out correctly.
  • Continuing with footwear, consider the sole unit of the boot that you are purchasing. With the increased surface water, slips, trips and falls become more of a hazard and a quality, well-designed sole unit can save a lot of potential injury and downtime. EN ISO 20345:2011 is the standard which all styles that are classified as ‘safety footwear’ are tested to and make sure your boots are SRC slip rated.
  • With daily light decreasing and the sun sitting lower in the sky, if you’re moving between the indoors and outdoors regularly, your eyes may take a few seconds to adjust to the differences in light levels. This creates the potential for an accident, so it’s worthwhile considering a pair of indoor/outdoor lens safety glasses. They use a slight mirror effect on the lens which reduces glare but allows you to have good vision in shaded areas, thereby keeping pupil adjustment to a minimum.

In conclusion, the most important thing to consider is, whatever the weather, your PPE must be suitable for the hazards presented in your working environment, and it must conform to the relevant standards. Making sure the PPE and workwear is comfortable just makes it easier for teams to stay safe and keep healthy.

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From the CEO's Desk - September 2020 18/08/2020

Alan Murray keeps you informed of what's happening in the world of PPE.

WHEN I closed my article for the July edition of Health and Safety Matters I did so with the words that I looked forward to updating you next time on Brexit, the UK Conformity Assessment mark (UKCA) and the impacts on our market place and any changes to the regulatory regime. Unfortunately, as I write this piece ahead of the publication deadline I do not have a great deal of detail to share. This may of course change very quickly and as soon as we get clearer detail we will publish it.

BSIF are in constant touch with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and at our Test and Certification Association meeting on the 28th of July we had input from senior members of the Brexit Trade and Investment negotiating team. This team are leading negotiations in Brussels on topics including a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) covering product conformity assessment and the domestic implementation of the EU-UK framework under which the UKCA mark and Approved Bodies fall.

The negotiations are ongoing and may be described as “challanging” particularly in areas such as creating level playing fields and governance. On behalf of the UK, the negotiation team has tabled an MRA modelled very closely on the established Canadaian CETA Agreement (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). The MRA proposed by the UK would cover all sectors which currently exist under the EU’s New Legislative Framework / New Approach, where there is mandatory conformity assessment in at least some cases. PPE Legislation (EU 2016/425) would be included in the scope of the UK proposal.

The proposed MRA covers PPE conformity assessment and the ability of Notified Bodies / Approved Bodies in the EU and the UK to continue to “certify” goods for both markets. Please remember that an existing Notified Body based in the UK will lose that status as we cease to be an EU member state. These Notified Bodies will automatically become UK “Approved Bodies” under the UKCA regime, from 11pm on December 31st 2020.

BEIS acknowledge that there is not guidance currently available and indeed previously published guidance “in the event of a no deal” has been withdrawn. They are working on guidance and appreciate that the industry needs time to be able to comply. In terms of manufacturing and supply, December 2020 is yesterday, and to accommodate the timing issues there will be a transition period.

What I can confirm via BEIS is that the UKCA mark process will come into existance and while there is no current legislation to support this I believe that this will be enacted very quickly via a statutory instrument.

There is no doubt that there are stretching times ahead as we attempt to apply whatever changes arise. PPE has for a generation been effectively managed through the architecture of 89/686 and latterly 2016/425, we must safeguard what was good in that process into the future.

2020 has already seen derogation from the PPE legislation, with easement brought-in, in an effort to provide desperately needed product to protect workers from COVID 19, and since March we have seen the pollution through inadequate non performing product being placed on the market.

We have all seen the headilines on products that were acquired by central government being deemed not fit for purpose and apparently quarantined, without being released for use. Perhaps the main story concerns the 50 million FFP2 masks acquired in April by the government which will not be used due to safety concerns. 

This mask purchase, was part of a larger PPE contract with Ayanda reported to be worth some £252 million. These are masks which instead of having a head harness are worn with “ear loops”. The reason cited as to why these masks will not be used is that there is doubt as to whether they will fit the wearer and provide the protection that is required. 

Perhaps due to the history of the UK demanding that tight fitting face masks are fit tested to ensure they are suitable for the wearer and capable of providing protection we had no history or experience of this type of mask in occupational safety and health. Personnaly, I was certainly surprised that such products could indeed pass the standard EN149. However, even outside of any Covid 19 related conformity assessment easement some ear loop masks had been certified!

I can tell you that the experience to date in face fitting these products is that more fail than pass a face fit. This is based on feedback from the Fit2Fit Accredited face fitters. It is, at this time not documented empirical evidence, but we are working on compiling the information and presenting it to the HSE. However, If all users of tight fitting masks actually undertook a fit test then perhaps the issue would not be so significant, as when a mask fails to pass a fit test it would not be used. Would that were th case, but we know that fit testing, despite being a legal requirement does not happen 100% of the time.

We must remember that as good as the UK’s record is, on Safety and Health 12,000 people die each year as a result of historic occupational lung disease and having product being used which is either inadequate for the hazard or unsuitable for the wearer could cost lives.

The Covid 19 pandemic has taught us many things but one of the main lessons must be that users should, now more than ever, be more discerning about the product they source and the suppliers that they use.

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Face coverings 17/08/2020

As it is now compulsory to wear Face Coverings in shops and supermarkets in England, Alan Murray thought that it would be timely to write on the subject.

As this product type is neither Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or a Medical Device (MD) we have, to some extent been hesitant on the topic. However as it is clearly a new category of product likely to be with us for some time, designed to mitigate the risk of COVID 19 transmission, and a product area that I know many of you are involved with commercially it is appropriate that we include it in our thinking and communications.

All of the guidance produced by the authorities remain crystal clear that the product is, as I said, neither PPE nor MD. As such Face Coverings are not regulated by either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Face coverings sold in the UK will be regulated under the existing General Product Safety Regulations 2005, which require that only “safe” product is placed on the UK market. Full details of this legislation can be found at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1803/regulation/4

It would be unfair to say that guidance so far on Face Coverings has been unclear however, in these times of guidance overload it has been something of a challenge to compare the publications and get a clear picture of the what, where, when and the how of Face Coverings.

I am though, very clear on the why. These products are designed primarily to protect others as opposed to the wearer. COVID 19 can be spread, predominately, by droplets created by coughs, sneezing and speaking. In addition to direct transmission droplets can be picked up from surfaces and infection passed by then touching your face. Face coverings are a valuable addition to social distancing and good hand hygiene as a tool to restrict the transmission of COVID 19.

So, what are wearers to expect from a face covering? This in itself could be clearer. On July 15 the Government updated its guidance on how to make one at home, a cloth face covering which the guidance simply advises that you will need 2 or 3, 25cm by 25cm squares of cotton fabric for the body of the face covering and 2, 20cm pieces of elastic (string or cloth strips) for ear loop fixings. This guidance makes no attempt to specify the performance or filtration characteristics of the face covering.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering

The previous day the Government published broader guidance on Face Coverings explaining what they were, the reason for their necessity, how and when to wear one, including the listing of exemptions, use while at work and responsibilities for those involved in buying and selling product, as well as maintenance and disposal information. Full details are available through this link. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own.

In this document it is made clear that there are no specified product performance standards required in the UK but importantly it referenced the French AFNOR standard S76-001 for “Barrier Masks” and the CEN Technical Specification CWA 17553 (available through link on page 7 of the above guidance) both of which have a range of requirements on dimensions, components, markings and importantly performance criteria for filtration efficiency, breathing resistance and suggested test methods.

British Standards Institute (BSI) are aligning to these standards which means that the BSI Kitemark can and will be applied to products which successfully submit for assessment.

The requirement to wear Face Coverings and in what circumstances will be different through the UK and Northern Ireland as these are devolved matters, but as was mentioned earlier from the 24th of July the requirement will be widespread and failure to do so, where required, could lead to a fine of up to £100.

I hope this note is of value and as ever the BSIF will do our best to support where we can, and wish you a safe and successful period as the country returns to work.

Sincerely

Alan Murray

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