Are you buying fake PPE?

Mark Dowling
Fake hi vis2
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I explain how I use the BSIF's message of 'Check-Select-Protect', to help customers ensure they are only buying and using the right PPE to keep them safe at work.

As someone who cares about keeping people safe at work and helping them buy the right clothing and equipment, nothing shocks me more than the fact fake PPE is STILL available. The idea that people use it to protect themselves at work… that’s even harder to take.

That’s why I tell people to buy from a British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) member like Tower, to guarantee the quality of what they buy. After all, PPE and safety products are only used when risk cannot be eliminated. Doesn’t it make sense to eliminate risk when procuring the PPE too?

To better explain how and why you should always use precaution when procuring your PPE, I use the BSIF’s “Check, Select, Protect” initiative. It’s their push for buyers to ‘check-select-protect’ their PPE, and it’s something I really believe in…

Check what you buy

Believe it or not, fake PPE can be bought. Over a 12-month period the BSIF sourced, assessed, and tested 160 products from distributors outside BSIF membership (in other words, companies that are not annually audited like Tower are). Of that 160, 144 products failed. That’s a failure rate of 89%!

It’s often assumed that if products look like PPE and safety equipment (and is marketed as such), it’ll provide the protection needed. But mounting evidence shows that this is not always the case. The use of ineffective PPE puts people at risk of injury, or worse. And this issue is on the rise.

Therefore, I recommend that special care is taken when sourcing these PPE & safety products. Firstly, check that your supplier is BSIF registered. These are suppliers that you can trust! Registered Safety suppliers, such as Tower, are compliant, competent, verified, and dependable.

During our annual audit, BSIF personnel check Tower’s ISO 9001 Quality Management System processes and that the company Quality Policy encompasses a BSIF declaration. They will also check a product which is taken from Tower’s distribution centre for independent inspection, physical testing, and documentation review.

Fake hi vis HD
Poundworld was fined £63,000 in 2015 for selling High-Vis jackets which carried the logo 'Be safe - be seen' despite not actually being reflective.

Select the right PPE

It’s also important to select appropriate & certified approved products. The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022), requires everyone who selects and buys PPE ensures it’s suitable and fit for purpose.

As a BSIF member, Tower only select CE and/or UKCA conformity assessed PPE that is presented with instructions for use that summarise the BS EN standards the product has met or exceeded. This confirms that the buyer has the correct selection for the wearer.

To help buyers select the right product, many of our customer-facing staff have completed and passed the BSIF Safe Supply accreditation, myself included. This helps us all support and guide customers through the product selection process with our competence, capability, and knowledge.

Protect your people

Investing in the right PPE and equipment is about more than just compliance. Tower can provide not only correctly specified PPE that suits the hazards faced, but also products that are designed with worker comfort and suitability in mind, for all those that may need to use it.

People are a company’s most precious asset, which makes protecting them a priority. And it’s important to remember that not all risks are visible or immediate. Inadequate products can lead to respiratory problems, eyesight issues, and long-term hearing loss.

If you’re a buyer, specifier, or user of PPE, then please contact me on 01202 718000 and I will tell you everything you need to know about when and how to buy PPE and safety equipment.

Mark Dowling6 TOWER21
Mark Dowling
Committee Member
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