Beware of Fake PPE

When Businesses Cut Corners

It has been a difficult few years for British business. What started as The Credit Crunch in 2008 quickly became the longest recession in recent history. With major manufacturing at an all-time low and many household names no longer trading, businesses are always on the lookout to save money. If it is looking to the internet for cheaper deals for everything, buying in bulk or changing suppliers of day to day equipment there is no end to the ways in which you might save money.

The issue of who supplies our pens, paper, branded goods and computer equipment is not a safety issue. However, in some cases businesses are searching for cheaper equipment that could be dangerous for their staff.

What is PPE?

For anybody who works in any industry with a higher level of dangerous activity, it is a legal requirement for the employer to provide staff with PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for their safety. It includes but is not limited to, high visibility clothing, hard hats, footwear (such as steel toe capped boots), gloves, eye protection and respirators where necessary. It is down to the employer to ensure that this equipment is functional and to replace it when it is no longer fit for use.

PPE understandably is expensive, especially high visibility clothing which is coated in a special material to make the wearer stand out in areas with heavy equipment or low visibility. Because of this expense, it is perhaps not surprising that there is now a vast illegal market of counterfeit and sub-standard goods. The motto for buying cheap PPE for your staff should be “caveat emptor” but also be aware that in buying these cheaper goods you may not just be breaking the law in terms of trademark, but you might also be breaking the law in relation to your staff’s safety.

Fake Goods – Not Just About Imitation Jeans

Aside from the legal and ethical problems associated with purchasing imitation goods (such as trademark), for cheap and counterfeit PPE equipment there are extra legal ramifications relating to your duty as an employer. Much of the equipment is substandard, not fit for purpose and some is dangerous.

A recent examination by HM Customs in 2012 revealed a vast number of high visibility clothing on the market that was not in fact high visibility. They had been coloured with a bright yellow dye but could not be seen under the sort of low-level lighting conditions for which they were designed. You may also think that a hard hat is a hard hat and they will protect regardless but a similar examination also in 2012 revealed a batch of poor quality equipment on a building site in the UK. The hats were of such poor quality that they were broken with the bare hands of the Officer who examined it.

If you wish to examine the safety standards of your PPE equipment, you can contact Systems for Safety to discuss your concerns.

Blog post written by MG Mason