A Guide to Sourcing Trustworthy Personal Protective Equipment
With an increasing number of businesses currently exploiting the market in a time of crisis by profiteering from PPE sales, it is hard for the public to know who they can trust when sourcing low cost and reliable PPE. Certain businesses have been inflating prices by over 1,000% with other businesses importing illegitimate PPE from suppliers in Asia using fake and invalid certificates.
- COVID-19 Relief - What is this and who can claim this relief?
The UK government announced that you do not have to pay import duty and VAT on medical supplies, equipment and protective garments during the coronavirus outbreak. This relief applies to any publicly governed bodies and NHS funded organisations. The goods which you can claim relief on include, imports of protective equipment, other relevant medical devices and equipment for protection against the COVID-19 outbreak. For further information and guidance on the COVID-19 tax relief, visit GOV.UK for a full breakdown of who can claim, how to claim and what goods you can claim relief on.
- Trusting the Supplier: Regulations and Certifications
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, regulations have changed to reduce the number of counterfeit CE marks (Chinese Export) on packaging from manufacturers supplying poor quality PPE. With the sudden outbreak of the virus earlier this year, hundreds of manufacturers have sprung out of nowhere, producing illegitimate surgical masks. Huge risks are associated with this and as a result, stricter rules and measures have since been developed to limit this from happening. Prior to the new rules and regulations, manufacturers would have only needed to supply a European Conformity marking, this has now changed and manufacturers are required to also supply a Medical Device Registration. This certification is more difficult to secure and the products being manufactured (particularly IIR masks) have to be inspected on a medical basis to meet a specific medical standard. Without such certifications, export could risk being denied, highlighting the importance of questioning and challenging the source of supply. As of April the 1st China dictated that any company with only CE certification could not have any surgical specification or standard type on the packaging.
- Invalid Certifications Produced Between January and March 2020
Due to the high demand and rise in illegitimate manufacturing, some governing bodies revoked CE certificates between January and March, due to fear that these would not have been thoroughly revised in order to meet both the government and medical standards. It is imperative that the legitimacy of certificates are challenged to ensure the goods you are sourcing are fit for purpose. The most proactive solution to question the validation of a certificate is to inspect the governing body the certificate claims it is registered with. Locate the governing body website and search for the code listed on the certification, if the code is listed here it is clear that this is legitimate. Where there are instances of difficulty locating this, it's more than likely that they are not registered with a governing body and will not be a reliable source.
- Understanding the Products
Since the outbreak, there's been a surge in the number of products and equipment available and as a result of this, it's easy to become confused between the difference in products and standards required.
IIR masks have seen the highest surge in demand, due to meeting government guidelines regarding medical use and the highest bacterial efficiency. As a result, it’s more likely that thousands of counterfeit supplies will be produced by untrustworthy manufacturers. In times of doubt, the general rules to follow when sourcing IIR masks are:
1. A clear, legitimate CE mark must be included somewhere on the packaging
2. As by the government standards, EN14683:2019 Type IIR should be listed on the packaging
3. The word ‘Medical’ or ‘Surgical’ should be listed on the packaging and paperwork.
Do not be afraid to challenge this and if the answers you receive don’t fill you with great confidence, question fulfilling the order.
Unsure of who and where to source your PPE from and need advice? Or are you concerned that the equipment you are sourcing is worryingly overpriced and unreliable? At Trusted PPE, we are taking an ethical approach during the coronavirus pandemic, supplying certified personal protective equipment at a low, non-profiteering cost. We have already shipped out over ten million masks from our UK warehouse to key workers, large scale health organisations and care homes and have been inundated with positive feedback for our ethical approach. We want to encourage companies to reach out for free help and guidance on any of the points mentioned above.
For further information or advice, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.