Excerpts from a recent sit down & informal interview with Alan Murray – CEO of The British Safety Industry Federation (The UK’s Trade body for Safety and Health) and President-Elect of the European Safety Federation (Pan-European body of all the National Safety Associations).
Fake fashion is worth a staggering £450 billion a year. But while a counterfeit Chanel bag may damage my self-esteem or wallet, my health is unlikely to be affected. Unfortunately, the opposite is true of fake PPE. Why do you believe counterfeit PPE is on the increase?
I don’t necessarily believe that it is on the increase. We have no statistics to compare. What I do know is that product which does not deliver the performance it claims is out there in the UK market. This has become crystal clear through our Registered Safety Supplier Scheme product testing process where we have seen a failure rate of up to 20% in the last year. This is across the range of PPE types. When we began the testing of members products we anticipated that Category II PPE products would be the most likely to have problems, however we have also found several failures with Category III products like Filtering Face Piece Respiratory masks, a life preserving product. This is shocking!
Your 2016 – 2025 strategy includes Rebuilding the image of Health and Safety, Product Quality and Education. What do you believe will be the most critical challenges?
Quite honestly I believe that changing the public image of health and safety will be the most difficult. The phrase health and safety has itself become a pejorative term, thanks to lazy journalism and the cynical nature of many people. Our ability as a community to influence public opinion is somewhat limited and the institutions seem shy of taking on the media and explaining that proportionate safety and health management is a positive force for good, and that good safety is good for business, as well as the individual. Indeed, the UK has an enviable reputation for safety and health internationally and we should be shouting about it domestically.
On product quality and education I believe that with the support of members and with the backing of influential end users, we will enhance product and supply quality, through our Safe Supply Accreditation programme we will educate the commercial operators in the market and enhance their capabilities.
The New PPE Regulations include greater obligations on importers and distributors to ‘only place compliant PPE on the market’. How though, will this be policed and by whom?
This, like all market surveillance responsibilities, should be policed by Trading Standards.
Please can you elaborate on some core parts of the BSIF?
BSIF is now a Primary Authority with Trading Standards. BSIF sat down with Trading standards and showed them the protocol of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, which provides a proper way for BSIF members to demonstrate compliance through our Registered Safety Supplier Scheme. Trading Standards then issued the following statement which is a strong indicator of the robustness of the scheme:
Being a member of the British Safety Industry Federation Registered Safety Supplier Scheme and abiding by its terms and conditions and adhering to the prescribed and Audited Checklist Protocol will provide to Trading Standards, that you have a due diligence system in place to demonstrate compliance with the Obligations and Responsibilities of economic operators as referenced within the PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 pertaining to obligations and responsibilities as an “Importer” and or a “Distributor”. It does not necessarily provide a guarantee that all products are compliant.
We believe that through the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme we can not only raise the overall bar of product safety but give end users in the market the assurances they need when buying PPE/Safety Products. The RSSS gives those commercial operators the ability to demonstrate very clearly that they are in compliance with the new PPE Regulation EU 2016/425.
The Registered Safety Supply Scheme was launched in 2010, please explain how it has evolved?
The RSSS has evolved mostly in the past three years. When I came into my post in 2014 I recognised that the terms and conditions did not go far enough in being able to convince PPE specifiers and legislators that taking supply from a member was a must. In the last year we have added to the original requirements and started the testing of members products to ensure compliance to EN Standards. We have added the requirement that members must train their customer facing staff in order that they know and can demonstrate capability and expertise to customers. We have recently enhanced the scheme and incorporate checklists for members that outline their exact responsibilities and obligations under the new Regulation, so that they can then clearly demonstrate compliance.
These are positive strengthening elements and we are starting to see influential end users formally declare themselves as ‘Supporters of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme’ and committing that their PQQs will ask that suppliers are members. We have launched a website where PPE users can sign up as supporters and I encourage you to do this. The website is www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk
We would urge you to support the scheme and take advantage of the resources available on the site.
Would you like to see membership obligatory one day?
Indeed we would, because there are 5,000 outlets in the UK that sell safety & for many it is not their core competency! The BSIF supports the market and end user by ensuring our membership comply with current rules & regulations. I do not however, think that legislators will ever make it mandatory to be a member. This is simply contrary to current political thinking.
What are your goals for the future?
Our mission is to ensure Safety & Health issues are elevated to board level for UK Plc as a whole and for PPE to be purchased from registered & qualified members only.
Find out more at www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk.