BSIF CEO Alan Murray explains why 2023 will see a greater focus on product safety, including increased scrutiny on the safety and compliance of goods sold by third-party sellers on online marketplaces.
The UK has always had a reputation for stringent product safety standards but with constant innovation and the rise of e-commerce many markets have become increasingly hard to regulate.
PPE is a case in point. The COVID pandemic highlighted how quickly substandard and potentially dangerous products can find their way onto the market with reports suggesting billions of pounds of public money were ultimately wasted on unusable PPE.
Unfortunately substandard PPE isn’t just a COVID problem. Unacceptable products have been finding their way on to UK marketplaces prior to COVID and continue to do so today.
This is illustrated by the BSIF’s latest analysis. As well as auditing the BSIF membership annually to verify their compliance and competence, we test a selection of PPE from non-BSIF members. Between December 2021 and December 2022, a total of 118 non-member products were tested. Only 15 (13%) of these products passed the test, with the results for five of the products still pending. This means 98 products (83%) failed to meet the test’s criteria, many of which are still available and being sold to unsuspecting users.
These findings are in contrast with products supplied by BSIF Registered Safety Suppliers who are committed to only selling certified PPE and trading honestly and ethically
2023 will see the introduction of a new post-EU Product Safety Framework which will help to strengthen the rules around the sale of products including PPE. Timings for publication of the framework are still to be confirmed, but there will be a strong focus on improving the safety and compliance of goods sold by third-party sellers on online marketplaces. We expect to see stricter responsibilities for online vendors and harsher penalties for those who fail to comply.
At the same time, the Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance (ESG) agenda is having a growing impact. Companies looking to strengthen their ESG performance are closely scrutinising the credentials of their suppliers and choosing only to work with responsible companies. When it comes to buying PPE and safety equipment, many buyers now realise that specifying the BSIF’s Registered Safety Supplier Scheme is the easiest way to ensure they are only dealing with suppliers who are compliant, competent and trustworthy.
It’s therefore no surprise that we saw a significant number of public and private sector organisations mandate the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme for their supply chains in 2022. As the focus on products safety sharpens in 2023 we expect that number to increase.
For a full list of Registered Safety Suppliers, visit: https://www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk/