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PPE Regulations: What Every Employer Needs to Know

Written by: Richard Fox

When purchasing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) it’s essential that you take your time and select the appropriate PPE for you or your employee’s needs. After all, PPE is there to keep you or your personnel safe from risks that can cause serious injuries or even death from workplace hazards or violence.

It is essential that you procure PPE that is certified correctly and appropriately. Certified PPE must be manufactured in line with harmonised standards and meet PPE regulations.

Time and time again, I see products being advertised on social media and on online marketplaces displaying products that clearly are not up to scratch, and that don’t have any evidence of certifications or documentation. They may well be a fraction of the price of correctly certified products, but there’s a reason for that.

Meeting PPE regulations and harmonised standards can sometimes involve incredibly challenging and costly processes. Manufacturers may not always get their products right the first time and must improve to meet these stringent standards and regulations. I have had direct involvement in developing new products, right from the drawing board to final manufacture, and I can tell you as I’ve mentioned above it’s very challenging at times. There can be lots of highs and lows, however, the driving factor of knowing that you’re contributing to keep people safe and potentially saving lives always spurs you on.

Uncertified PPE – Untested, Unproven, Unreliable

Example of: uncertified, untested, unproven and unreliable PPE

Being members of BSIF (British Safety Industry Federation) for a number of years now, we recently had a visit from one of their representatives, Luke Neale. He was visiting our premises for our annual audit and to check on our compliance with standards and the PPE regulations. I had a remarkably interesting chat with him around the dangers of buying uncertified PPE from online marketplaces and non-reputable retailers.

He told me “Market surveillance in the UK is often reported as being under resourced, so the BSIF purchase PPE and conduct indicative testing on Non-Member products in addition to those we test as part of the membership audit process. Some of the non-member products & test results we see are shocking and highlight the amount of non-compliant, non-conforming products in the marketplace. Of over 130 products evaluated, almost 80% failed assessment in 2023. The implications for any business providing or using non-compliant PPE/Safety products are serious and far reaching – most importantly the effect on the injured party, their family, and the rest of the workforce. Potential fines and even imprisonment, together with the negative publicity generated can also have an ongoing effect on the business. We are encouraging anyone engaged in specifying PPE to follow a simple 3 step plan to Check, Select, and Protect. Check your supplier is BSIF Registered. BSIF audited suppliers are compliant, competent, and trustworthy.

Select appropriate, certified, and approved products. Registered Safety Suppliers can support the product selection process through their competence, capability, and knowledge. Protect your people, your most precious asset, and help your business to thrive.”

Luke also shared the below imagery the BSIF has produced, of a small amount of PPE products they’ve purchased and independently tested.

BSIF PPE Regulations

As you can see the products listed have been sold online or via a retailer, although shockingly one is from an actual PPE supplier.

Another thing to consider, is the consequences should something go wrong, if you or your employer has not provided the correctly certified PPE.

There’s no doubt about it, employers will find that process and other changes made to improve workplace health and safety such as procuring certified PPE. Will result in significant improvements to their organisation’s productivity and profitability.

Benefits of being PPE Certified

At PPSS Group we take the design and manufacture of our products very seriously. Not only that, but we also enjoy the transparency of talking with our valued customers, sharing our certification data, and advising our customers wisely. We prefer a consultative approach when discussing our products. We’ve always been very open about this, and I think it’s one of the reasons a lot of leading organisations from the security industry, healthcare, special education sector and other industries choose to work with us and use our diverse set of products. Our body armour for example is certified in both US (NIJ standards) and UK (DSTL formerly CAST) standards and fully meets PPE regulations and we’re audited regularly by our certification body. Another important thing to mention about our body armour, our high-visibility covers are certified to ISO 20471 standards. Enabling the wearers of our body armour to operate in low light areas or other areas where certified high visibility clothing is mandatory. However, we’re very aware that many providers will advertise their products as ‘Hi-Viz’ yet are unable to provide evidence of such certification.

Our industry leading brands BitePRO®, SlashPRO® and CutPRO® products all meet several standards applicable to their usage, like tear resistance, puncture resistance and abrasion resistance, to name a few. Also as mentioned above, we’ve been proud BSIF members for over 3 years now, and have an ISO 9001 quality management system (QMS) in place. All this ensures that we do our absolute best to meet customer expectations and maintain a commitment to providing quality products and services.

If you’re looking to procure PPE products, I implore you not to take price over quality, and correctly certified products. If anything, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above, don’t be one of the financial statistics for making a poor decision, look after your personnel and organisations interests with integrity.

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About the Author

Richard Fox is the Director of Operations for PPSS Group of Companies. He is responsible for the day to day running of the companies. This also involves having a deep understanding of compliance and quality control. Richard ensures that all our products and processes meet and, in some cases, exceed the many international standards and certifications we hold.

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