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Poundworld fined for selling fake High-Vis

23 November 2015

Poundworld has been fined £63,000 for selling High-Vis jackets which carried the logo 'Be safe - be seen' despite not actually being reflective.

According to the Daily Mail the discount retailer sold more than 95,700 of the £1 vests but tests by Trading Standards revealed that the jackets' reflectivity was only 2.4% of the standard required for a High-Vis item. 

Joe Tyler of Hertfordshire Trading Standards who bought the jacket from Poundworld on Watford High Street said: "Whilst the produce purported to be a high visibility safety vest, it was in fact no such thing. It was little more than an item of clothing.

"Neither the fluorescent yellow background material or the retro-reflective strips were of a standard anywhere near that which was necessary to ensure the visibility of the user."

The jacket was withdrawn from sale on June 5 2014 and a national recall took place in January this year.

In a written response to Trading Standards' questions, Poundworld said the vest that was tested was part of a batch of 7,200, but since January 2010 it had imported and sold 95,700.

The company appeared for sentencing at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, having pleaded guilty to two offences of engaging in misleading commercial practice at an earlier hearing.

Stan Reiz, defending, said the Chinese manufacturers had provided test certificates that were misleading to Poundworld . He said there had been no complaints or safety incidents reported.

But he said: "The company admits it fell short of due diligence. It has now changed its policies and has increased its UK test centres."

Poundworld was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £42,395.10 in an agreed confiscation order as well as £6,123.16 prosecution costs.

Judge John Plumstead said: "People would have gone out of the shop believing they had improved the safety of their children or themselves when out after dark on foot or on a bicycle.

"The fine demonstrates the court's disapproval of those who put on the market safety aids that are not safety aids at all."

In response to the judgement, Alan Murray, CEO of the BSIF stated: “It is extremely disappointing that such a well known retailer would be selling product that was misleading and could put lives at risk.”

He further questioned whether discount retailers should be selling regulated PPE in the first place. “Consumers seeking to buy safety equipment should go to outlets that have expertise and experience in these products. The BSIF is committed to ensuring that PPE such as High-Vis vests on sale in the UK meet relevant European safety standards and provide the level of protection that they claim. To help combat the sale of substandard PPE, we have 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."

A full list of registered companies is available from www.bsif.co.uk/registered-supplier-scheme. For anyone who is concerned about whether an item of PPE they have bought is compliant with relevant safety standards, the British Safety Industry Federation has also created a PPE Checklist.