Are You Buying Genuine PPE?
Buying PPE isn’t a new thing for many industries but for some, like retail and schools, buying PPE could be a minefield that you aren’t aware of. Different levels of PPE are required for different businesses; a ‘face covering’ is fine for wearing in the street but it won’t give you protection from catching anything, only from passing on COVID or other diseases (find out what face masks provide adequate protection for different uses.). It is important to know what you are purchasing and the level of protection that you need for your business, workplace or family. In addition, there are different certifications that come with approved PPE supplies, for example, 3M face masks are certified products so they should come with the certificate to prove this.
The Risks of Fake PPE
When it comes to genuine PPE, you shouldn’t assume that everything you purchase is genuine. Just like many other things in life, many counterfeit and dangerous pieces of PPE have made it onto the market, putting people at risk of becoming infected and spreading disease. This fake equipment provides a false sense of security and that can be extremely dangerous. Many companies out there are not used to purchasing PPE and don’t understand that not all PPE is genuine or what they should be checking for.
How Do You Know You Are Buying Genuine PPE?
There is no denying that many fake items that flood the UK look like the real thing and the same can be said about PPE to the untrained eye. Therefore, as many people are new to PPE, they might not have any idea about what they are purchasing which is a concern. Just because it looks like a surgical face mask, it doesn’t mean that it is Type IIR medical-grade face masks for example. It’s similar with COVID test kits, any businesses working with the government will need MHRA approved COVID test kits, not just any test kit. This isn’t to say that non-MHRA COVID tests arent effective, but they are not medical grade so you just need to understand what the requirements are for your business to make sure you are buying the most suitable standard of PPE.
Genuine PPE Certification
All genuine PPE will come with the relevant certification. When you are purchasing PPE you should check to ensure the product has the certification required for the intended use or type of business. If you are purchasing PPE supplies for use in the workplace then it must have a CE quality mark that also carries the number of the notified body. What this means is that if you consider FFP2 and FFP3 protective masks, they are considered as category III PPE, which means that the manufacturer is obliged to issue an EU Declaration of Conformity and this must be given with the PPE as well as instructions on how to use it correctly.
However, to ensure that all PPE that is being purchased by businesses for employees is genuine, BSI stated employers should ensure that the certifications that are provided are recognised by the VerifEye directory. This means that users can put in the name of the equipment provider and the certificate number before they are given verification as to whether the PPE is genuine or not.
As an alternative to this, purchases can also be given an original PDF certificate from the supplier when they make a purchase of PPE. Where this option is available, they can then follow the link that is located on the bottom of the certificate that will enable them to determine if the PPE is legitimate or not.
Genuine PPE Checklist
To make things simple here is an easy checklist for you to follow to ensure you purchase genuine PPE that is fit for your purpose:
- Find out the government guidelines or industry guidelines you need to comply with
- Ensure that the product has a CE mark (it will have 4 numbers after it CE0120 for example)
- Does the product come with instructions written in readable, clear text that include manufactures name and address (the address should be within UK or EU)
- Does the CE certificate match the product and does it look tampered with, particularly around the CE numbers
- Is the validity of the certificate still in date?
- Does the certificate state that it is an EC type-examination
- Are terms and conditions included on the certificate?
It is vital that businesses choose to purchase PPE from suppliers that can provide the correct certification as this will ensure that all of the equipment they have purchased is both effective and fit for purpose.