Warning over substandard PPE hitting UK market

Amid growing evidence that equipment that isn’t fit for purpose is reaching the UK market, construction companies are being urged to follow a simple process to check for substandard PPE.

The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) says substandard products became even more apparent during the covid pandemic, when people with little experience of sourcing PPE started buying products such as masks. This resulted in “opening the floodgates” to a “deluge” of non-compliant and even counterfeit products.

The BSIF said that in June 2021-May 2022 it sourced, assessed and tested 160 products outside BSIF membership. A total of 144 products – 89% – failed because they either did not pass the testing or did not have compliant markings or supporting documentation.

Lack of knowledge

Under PPE regulations, buyers of PPE and safety equipment are responsible for ensuring the products they buy are compliant. But the BSIF warned that many buyers don’t have the knowledge or resources to validate suppliers’ claims.

It cautioned against assuming that if products look like PPE and safety equipment, they will provide adequate protection. And it warned that ineffective products could put people at risk of injury, or worse.

Construction companies are urged to ensure their suppliers are members of the BSIF’s Registered Safety Supplier Scheme. And it called on UK businesses buying PPE to: 

  • check the supplier is BSiF registered.
  • select appropriate, certified and approved products.
  • protect people by following the first two steps.

BSiF CEO Alan Murray said: “However you are sourcing your PPE and safety equipment, checking whether your vendor is a Registered Safety Supplier is a quick and easy way of ensuring they are committed to high standards of operation and are compliant with relevant regulations.” 

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