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Buying a fake watch may be illegal but it is unlikely to be life threatening. Supplying illegal, non-conforming personal protective equipment (PPE) however, could be the difference between life and death.

PPE is defined in the Regulations as “all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him or her against one or more risks to his health and safety, e.g. safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.” The main requirement of the PPE at Work Regulations 1992 is that PPE is to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways.

Due to the purpose of the equipment, PPE needs to meet stringent performance standards. Quality, CE approved PPE meets and often exceeds these


performance requirements and hence will protect individuals from hazards faced in the workplace. The problem arises when organisations believe they are purchasing adequate PPE for the workforce, when in fact the products may be fake or illegal.

Non-conforming high visibility vests, hand protection, safety helmets and prescription safety glasses are regrettably only a handful of the products that continue to find their way onto the marketplace. Unfortunately, to the untrained and unsuspecting eye, illegal, non-conforming safety equipment is hard to distinguish and in many instances goes unnoticed until an accident occurs with often irreversible consequences! Over recent years, a plethora of items

have entered the marketplace that have been produced using sub standard materials and it is these types of products that need to be ‘stamped out.’

David Lummis, Chief Executive Officer at the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) comments: “When an individual uses PPE they are relying on the items to protect them against any work related hazards. The importance of this item functioning properly is pivotal as the individual’s health and wellbeing rests on the protection it is meant to provide. An individual using sub standard PPE is placed in grave danger as they are relying on a product to carry out a job that it is incapable to do – the possible ramifications of this situation are alarming.”

Obviously the size of this problem is something that cannot be fixed overnight but measures have been put in place to help combat the counterfeit PPE trend. Ongoing communication between manufacturers and end-users is paramount.

As a membership organisation, the BSIF takes a strong interest in monitoring the marketplace to help contribute to the curbing of this unprincipled behaviour, a battle that is unfortunately ongoing. The BSIF liaises very closely with its members, including test houses, to look out for and react to fake and illegal PPE. The Federation also works closely with Trading Standards and Local Government Regulation, the national co-ordinating body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the

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