The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has issued a cautionary alert to industry and tradesmen following the extensive failure of personal protective equipment (PPE) from non-member entities in their safety assessments.

BSiF Registered Safety Supplier Logo

In a comprehensive evaluation of safety performance, the BSIF tested 123 products acquired from non-member sources between December 2022 and December 2023. Tests were made to assess their advertised performance, marking adequacy, and compliance with the legally mandated UK safety standards.

Only 21% of those products tested demonstrated full compliance, leaving a staggering 79% falling short of the established testing criteria. Alarmingly, several of these substandard products are still accessible and in use, posing significant risks to unsuspecting wearers.

BSIF testing fails

Several instances of products from non-BSIF-registered members failing tests serve as illustrations of potential hazards.

When is a Flame Retardant coat Flammable?

A Flame Retardant Parka, procured from an online retailer, failed flame spread testing as the outer layer burnt through, exposing the inner layer, leading to the entire coat being engulfed in flames. Additionally, this garment lacked proper documentation and markings in accordance with PPE Regulation requirements.

Unsafe Safety Boots

In another case, safety boots from the same online retailer fell short in toe cap compression tests. Notably, these boots were over a decade old, provided with outdated certification, lacked the necessary documentation, and were improperly marked.

Could've had someone's eye out!

Safety spectacles obtained from a high street retailer did not pass an impact resistance test, with lenses breaking when subjected to a projectile. These spectacles were deficient in required markings and documentation. Despite assurances to remove the product from the market, it remained available over two months later.

Give them a hand!

Another high street retailer sold three pairs of protective gloves that failed abrasion testing, delivering only half the claimed performance level. These gloves were also incorrectly marked and lacked essential documentation. Despite promises to take corrective action, the products were still on sale four months later when the BSIF made inquiries.

Don't hold your breath

In a separate incident, a Respiratory Protective Mask (FFP3) purchased from a PPE distributor performed at only half the required level in filter penetration tests against contaminants and had missing documentation. Surprisingly, the distributor did not take immediate action to withdraw the product from sale or initiate a recall, despite being contacted by the BSIF.

Why does safe and compliant PPE matter?

Alan Murray, the CEO of BSIF, commented on the findings, stating:

“Our most recent test results highlight that inadequate and substandard PPE and safety equipment are readily available in the UK. Shockingly, many users unknowingly rely on these compromised products for their safety."

He urged buyers and specifiers to urgently reassess their procurement processes and consider the assurances they have regarding the fitness for purpose of the supplied PPE and safety equipment.

Murray emphasised:

“Checking for the BSIF Registered Safety Supplier shield is the easiest way to ensure you only deal with compliant, competent, and trustworthy suppliers. Remember, anyone can sell safety, but you shouldn’t buy safety from just anyone; always check for the shield.”

This goes to show the importance of forming business relationships with trustworthy suppliers. When it comes to Health & Safety and personal protection, always opt for a BSIF registered safety supplier. XAMAX® is just one. We are a member of the BSIF and only procure PPE from distributors and manufacturers who are also members. This creates a supply chain you can be confident in.