How to protect against fake PPE

Some of the biggest stories to hit the news headlines during Covid-19 have been around fake PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and imported PPE which fails to meet British Standards. 

The public’s understanding of what PPE is and their awareness of how it protects us has been heightened over the last couple of months. In our daily life, we are all accustomed to buying and wearing the right sanitisers, gloves and facemasks for the appropriate protection.

Retailers and procurement staff are being cautioned to stick to trusted sources of supply for PPE to ensure that they are doing as much as they possible can to keep their staff and customers safe.

An employee’s workwear is often, of course, an essential PPE item. With the current sharp focus on employee health and safety and wellbeing, there is no better time to look at the regulations surrounding workwear and what are the key things that should be considered when purchasing PPE supplies?


Be aware of the Regulations

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 2002 state that an employee’s body must be protected from the hazards of extreme temperature, adverse weather, chemical or metal splash, spray from pressure leaks or spray guns, impact or penetration, and contaminated dust, and the excessive wear or entanglement of your own clothing. This can be covered through a range of options, including conventional overalls and boiler suits. PPE must be properly looked after and stored, and, if it is reusable must be kept in clean and good condition. Employees must make proper use of PPE and report its loss, destruction or any fault in it.

And workwear, just like other PPE, is not only fitted with the CE mark but must also conform to current standards such as EN 340 (general requirements for protective clothing). If the working garment offers protection from a risk that does not fall under category 1 (simple design), there is also an obligation to submit it to an EC type approval procedure. EC directives cover protection against liquid chemicals, biological and radiological and nuclear agents, amongst others, as well as covering hi-vis garments.


Carry out all essential checks

It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that a rigorous risk assessment is carried out and that the right protective workwear is supplied so that the workwear is no longer used and replaced after it is no longer suitable, as the last line of defence, to do the job of protecting the wearer.

Those responsible for selecting and purchasing PPE workwear must contact manufacturers or sellers for test reports and certificates to prove this is fit for purpose and provides the correct protection.

All PPE products must have been tested to the relevant BS/EN standards as per the recommendation and guidance of the EU commission.

The PPE Regulation directly affects everyone in every part of the supply chain who now has shared legal responsibility with manufacturers in compliance and for providing safe and effective products.

All organisations involved with the production, importation, supply, distribution, marketing and sale of PPE workwear has the same responsibilities as the manufacturer, including getting product approval, making sure it conforms to the regulations and keeping technical files and records.


How a workwear provider can help

Here are some hints and tips for choosing a workwear provider:

  • Ensure your supplier is continually keeping abreast of and complies with the relevant regulations and European standards
  • Ensure that your supplier is leading the way with developments in new fabrics, technology and servicing options
  • Ensure your supplier is proactive in sharing knowledge to highlight and explain standards in a way that is both meaningful and useful; that they explain the suitability, benefits and corresponding protection offered by one garment over another