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How do you know your PPE and safety equipment is compliant?

With high volumes of substandard PPE and safety equipment on the market, British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) CEO Alan Murray explains how specifiers and users can ensure their products are fit for purpose

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to guard against hazards in the workplace. However, it will only do so if it is adequate for the hazard, suitable for the wearer, used correctly, and stored and maintained in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Failing to check your PPE is fit for purpose could leave you or your employees, for whom you have a duty of care, vulnerable and unprotected, and exposes your organisation to the risk of prosecution.


The BSIF’s latest non-member product tests show non-compliance is worryingly high, putting users and wearers at risk.

Between December 2021 and December 2022, we completed tests on 127 non-member products, which included checking their compliance with relevant standards and testing whether they perform as advertised. Only 18 (15 per cent) of these products were fully compliant. This means 108 products (85 per cent) failed to meet the regulatory criteria, many of which are still available and being sold to unsuspecting users and putting them at risk.


Knowing what questions you should be asking when buying PPE and safety equipment will go some way towards helping you and your business ensure that your PPE complies with the law and conforms to the PPE Regulation 2016/425.

This is why we have launched a handy checklist to help specifiers and users check that their PPE is fit for purpose. The checklist highlights the responsibilities of buyers and distributors, and covers questions related to product markings, required documentation, product condition, and storage.

Examples of questions included in the checklist are:

  • Does the PPE have a UKCA, UKNI or CE Mark applied to it?
  • Was the PPE issued with User Instructions included?
  • Is the PPE clean, undamaged and suitable for use?
  • Was the PPE stored correctly, according to the User Instructions?

If any questions present cause for concern, users are advised to seek support and guidance from their company’s health & safety advisor and the manufacturer of the PPE. The BSIF can also provide general guidance. The checklist can be downloaded for free at: Check-your-PPE.pdf (bsif.co.uk)

Our ‘Is it Genuine – Certification Checklist’ provides further advice on how to check if the supporting documentation for your PPE is genuine and what to do if you are concerned. It can be downloaded at https://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Is-it-Genuine-2023.pdf


As a buyer or specifier of PPE, you are responsible for ensuring the product is properly certified and approved, but often you will not have the knowledge and resources to validate suppliers’ claims. However, the BSIF offers a supplier verification scheme – The Registered Safety Supplier (RSS) scheme – to help. Just look for the shield.

Companies displaying the scheme’s shield have signed a binding declaration that the PPE and safety equipment they offer meets the correct standards, fully complies with the regulations, and is UKCA and/or CE marked following appropriate testing and approval. When using a Registered Safety Supplier, you can be confident you will receive genuine products that are fit for purpose as well as genuine information and guidance.

RSS members’ products are subject to further annual tests and if they fail to meet the test’s strict criteria, any issues must be addressed and rectified immediately for members to remain part of the scheme.

We encourage all those charged with specifying PPE to:

  • CHECK your supplier is BSIF-registered. BSIF-audited suppliers are compliant, competent and trustworthy. Don’t settle for less.
  • SELECT appropriate, certified and compliant products. Registered Safety Suppliers can support the product selection process through their competence, capability and knowledge.
  • PROTECT your workforce and your business. Registered Safety Suppliers go above and beyond, helping to keep your people safe and helping your business to thrive.

A full list of registered suppliers is available to view at https://www.bsif.co.uk/rsss/


Selling PPE and safety equipment comes with complex responsibilities and it can be hard for even the most diligent suppliers to keep up with the rules and regulations.

The BSIF’s new PPE checklist is a reminder that while anyone can sell safety, you shouldn’t buy safety from just anyone. Specifying a Registered Safety Supplier is the easiest way to ensure you are only dealing with compliant, competent and trustworthy suppliers.

In association with https://www.bsif.co.uk

About Sarah OBeirne

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