The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) are responsible for policy and strategy on product safety in the UK. Following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, OPSS are conducting a review of the current framework to ensure that it is fit for purpose, now and into the future. The opportunity to comment is open until June 17th and I urge you to contribute opinion on the link below.
As you may anticipate the questions on the link are often general in nature and have a high level, forward looking focus on innovation, sustainability and circularity. However, in the case of PPE I would argue that that the current Regulation 2016/425 is generally fit for purpose, but it is at great risk of being undermined by a lack of enforcement. If you share this opinion there is ample opportunity to express this concern in various dialogue boxes within the survey. If you are unable to take the survey this opinion and others, can be expressed by e mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am, as you are aware in direct dialogue with OPSS on this situation and it would be helpful to have member input in order to amplify the message.
Please note that all product safety enforcement action is carried out by the authorities on the basis of any risk which a non-compliant product would present. It is for that reason that we commonly see product safety enforcement notification on items which carry a risk of electrocution, choking or indeed containing toxic compounds. We rarely see PPE fall into these areas of risk (with the exception of products containing azo dyes or chromium vi) and it could be argued that this is one of the reasons why there is a lack of assertive enforcement on non-compliant PPE.
It is my opinion that the authorities must review how they judge PPE in any risk evaluation matrix, recognising that PPE has been provided as a control measure, after a risk assessment, to protect a wearer in an area where “a risk” has already been identified. Where PPE does not perform to claims in a hazardous environment the wearer is no longer safe! The PPE is, in and of itself, not an unsafe product, it is the failure to perform that makes it unsafe. The authorities need to appreciate this distinction and deem any PPE which has not been properly conformity assessed as high risk taking the appropriate enforcement action straight away, and without the need to investigate further.
I am working directly with OPSS on this argument and, as I said above, your feedback will help ensure that the lessons on PPE during Covid 19 are not forgotten. I believe there is now a rare opportunity to change the approach from market surveillance and hope that you can find a few minutes to express your own opinions through the links above.