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PPE: Training for customer-facing staff

30 March 2017

The quality of training available for health and safety professionals is a significant contributor to the UK being regarded as one of the safest of all countries in the developed world, says Ian Crellin, marketing manager, British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF). Here he outlines the organisation's recently-launched Safe Supply Accreditation training course

Providing a safe working environment requires the application of theoretical safety skills and the application of leadership and the understanding of behaviours. The safety professional will always apply proportionate risk assessment and recognise the hierarchy of controls that are required as a start point in the elimination of hazards which have the potential to cause harm to the individual. Within the hierarch of controls the final control listed is that of providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE is often regarded as the last line of defence but, utilising PPE as a control is often the most practical and proportionate method of keeping workers safe.

PPE is a highly regulated product stream whose design, manufacture and performance standards are controlled by European legislation adopted into UK law. However, up until now there have not been any publicly accredited PPE training courses, available for commercial operators in PPE in the UK.

Safe Supply Accreditation programme

Anyone can sell safety products but the BSIF believe that you should not buy safety from just anyone. The capability of the supply chain is vitally important for users to get the appropriate support and the BSIF has launched the Safe Supply Accreditation training course and award to ensure that users are able to rely on good product advice from their suppliers.

The objective of Safe Supply Accreditation programme is to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) market knowledge and learning input for customer facing individuals operational in the UK Safety & Health Industry. The course content is designed to impart information and develop confidence in the principles associated with the legal essentials of the market and the fundamentals of managing safety (their clients) how Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is approved for use in occupational safety and how the market is regulated by the enforcing authorities.

The course will help enhance the capability and develop the expertise of individuals within the supply side of the safety and health market, contributing to the improvement of Occupational Safety and Health in the UK.

They will understand and appreciate 'what makes PPE different', a regulated industry with product design and manufacture, highly regulated to support user safety and facilitate a single market within the European Union.

The first module covers the Legal Essentials of operating in this market. Candidates will learn the relevant elements of the legislation understanding how they can better support their clients within the limits of the law.

The second module of the course is on Managing Safety. Managing Safety is what their clients must do effectively and efficiently every day. This module will help commercial operators understand more clearly the challenges that users face in carrying out their responsibilities.

The third module covers CE Marking and the Product Approval through which the candidates will appreciate that product design and manufacturing is controlled by the PPE Directive/Regulation and they will learn the structure of the CE marking process and the institutions involved including, but not restricted to the role of the Notified Body. They will then be able to assist clients in identifying appropriately marked PPE products to support their safety and health programmes.

The final module of the Safe Supply Accreditation programme covers Market Surveillance and through this the candidate will know who is responsible for policing the market in both product safety and safety policy. They will learn who to go to when there is a question over the ‘fit for purpose’ status of PPE and they will understand and appreciate why market surveillance of PPE is so important and its role in occupational health.

The Safe Supply Accreditation Award will be a publicly recognised Ofqual controlled qualification for PPE commercial operators. 

Training customer facing staff in this way is one of the terms of the BSIF’s Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, an assurance to the market that their PPE is provided by a reliable, capable supplier. 

 
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