Certification body issues warning over ‘fake’ PPE

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Organisations bringing staff back into the workplace may have unwittingly purchased ineffective personal protective equipment (PPE) that may not offer sufficient protection against coronavirus exposure.

The British Standards Institute warned that a number of manufacturers had been selling medical face masks and other PPE for healthcare settings with “fake” certificates.

It urged those involved in procurement to verify that safety certificates are genuine by checking that the link at the bottom of the PDF certificate is valid, or looking up the certificate on the BSI VerifEye Directory.

BSI said it had informed Trading Standards and other European regulators about the apparent falsification of safety certificates.

James Pink, a senior director of global health and safety organisation NSF International, told The Guardian newspaper that some manufacturers had been deliberately selling PPE with falsified certificates, while others were mistakenly putting unverified kit on the market.

“The risk is that there is non-conforming product out there giving us all a false assurance of safety,” he said.

“A lot of companies are not used to purchasing PPE, or just do it for occupational risk, rather than protecting against a communicable infectious agent. I’ve reviewed more than 10 companies that have been submitted as being a PPE supplier and there have been inaccuracies in documentation.”

Meanwhile, a report in the i newspaper has alleged that the Health and Safety Executive has not been carrying out inspections of workplaces to check they are operating safely, despite prime minister Boris Johnson’s claims that spot inspections of food outlets, manufacturing plants and construction sites would be taking place.

An HSE spokesperson said: “In line with government guidance to cease all but essential work that cannot be done outside of the home, minimising contact between individuals, HSE has paused all proactive inspections at this time to reduce any risk posed to our own staff and to members of the public.”

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