Safety, Access & Tools

Substandard PPE remains an issue for UK workplaces

Counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) is a growing problem in UK workplaces despite recent warnings, according to Slingsby.

The company has sent out a fresh warning to businesses of the need to be extra vigilant when purchasing PPE, and says it welcomes proposed legislation that would make retailers and distributors responsible for ensuring products they sell meet the required safety standards. 

Slingsby supplies more than 35,000 workplace products across a number of industries – including a range of PPE – and the company says there are a number of unscrupulous operators in the UK selling a wide range of everyday products – including high visibility clothing, gloves and goggles – that fail to meet minimum safety requirements.

Lee Wright, marketing director at Slingsby, said: “Over the last couple of years, it’s been well-publicised that cheap, substandard, and even counterfeit PPE is finding its way into the UK. A lot of the examples we have seen are badly made and fail to offer any real protection, as well as being non-compliant with safety standards. Some products even come with falsified certifications.

“However, new legislation currently being considered would help to eradicate counterfeit PPE by making retailers and distributors accountable for ensuring the quality of the products they sell.”

Currently, only manufacturers are responsible for checking that their products comply with performance standards, but a new European directive – currently being circulated in draft form – would close a loophole that enables companies to sell substandard products without being accountable for their quality. Under the proposals, companies selling these products would have to keep records about their stock and ensure products meet required standards

Mr. Wright added: “Until the changes are introduced businesses and organisations have a responsibility to their employees, customers and the public to provide PPE that is safe and will do its job should the worst happen.  This makes buying PPE a big responsibility because safety equipment that doesn’t perform can ultimately cost lives.”

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