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From the CEO's desk

30 April 2013

It can be said that a lot of us take for granted safety equipment and the fact that it will perform to its fullest, saving injury or death. But, how can we be certain that another ‘horse meat’ scandal won’t develop in the health and safety world?

Most of the time political institutions such as the European Union get severely criticised for being autocratic, laying down excessive requirements and meddling in areas where their particular input isn’t required. This certainly isn’t the case when it comes to performance standards for safety equipment.

All personal protective equipment (PPE) must be manufactured to meet or exceed minimum performance standards. These are specified in appropriate CE standards and where the item is designed to prevent harm. All the products must be independently tested to certify that they fulfil that obligation.

These standards are formulated using input from a wide range of industry experts, users and independent test houses to verify the product compliance. The standards and test methods try to reproduce what will happen when the products are in use; a considerable amount of time and energy gets put into getting it all right. Each standard is under constant review to ensure it encompasses the latest manufacturing, test methods and legislation, which will then be reflected in any changes made.

Performance standards are a core element of protecting the workforce and compliance to these is essential. If you purchase safety equipment from a reliable and ethical source, then you will be ensuring the product performs as you expect it to. Whereas, if you lower your standards and purchase from less reputable sources, then don’t be surprised when the equivalent to the ‘horse meat’ scandal turns up.

Horse meat may be unpalatable and not what you ordered, but it won’t kill you, whereas poor safety equipment might.

David Lummis

The BSIF Chief Executive Officer