This month, results of a Workplace Survey conducted by the Chartered Trading Standards were published and highlighted huge reductions in resources. Specifically, the report stated that total spend nationally had fallen from £213 million in 2010 to now £124 million. How will this affect the future of PPE compliance and market surveillance in the UK?
Starving Trading Standards of resources means that they will lack the capacity to investigate issues of product compliance and ultimately could mean that the safety and health of workers is threatened. Although our Registered Safety Supplier Scheme leads the movement in ensuring PPE is correctly tested and certified to appropriate EU standards, to ensure this is actioned on a nationwide scale, further support from organisations such as Trading Standards is crucial.
Non Metallic Safety Footwear Product Failures
During 2015, the BSIF were actively engaged with several suppliers of safety footwear in addressing the issue of non –compliant, non – performing styles. The product failures occurred in toe cap compression tests specified within EN 20345: 2011 and it is believed that the major cause was the use of thermo plastic in the construction of the toe cap rather than non – metallic fibre composite materials.
Despite the activity of the Federation, we are seeing evidence that there are still many styles of footwear with this problem in the UK market. Safety footwear is commonly a bought – in product, with a long supply chain and often the importer is unaware that the footwear being sourced now has a toe cap component which will not provide the user with the protection level that they expect. We once again call on the Membership to redouble their efforts in investigating the products in their range and ensure that their suppliers have the necessary quality assurance in place in order to guarantee the quality and performance of the products.
We have also seen numerous leather glove failings on Chromium VI and Azo dye content. With these issues in mind the Federation re-launched the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme at Safety & Health Expo. Going forward the conditions of the scheme will require independent testing of product to ensure that what is being provided to the market still performs to the requirements of the EN test clauses. We have long held the view that there is vulnerability with Category II PPE, in that it was type tested when first put on the market but with no requirement for ongoing quality assurance within the PPE Directive.
It is clear that positive action is required now if we are to see instances of these issues drop. The role of Trading Standards within this is very important and the Government should ensure these resources are available.