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Arco report on PPE procurement raised in Parliament 22/12/2020

With the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic coming under growing parliamentary scrutiny, leading safety company Arco’s 'Position Paper: Personal Protective Equipment and the Government’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic', has reached the heart of Government.

Emma Hardy, MP spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the National Audit Office (NAO) report into procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic, sharing details of the report and its recommendations. Following the session, Emma Hardy sent a letter to the Cabinet Office parliamentary secretary, Julia Lopez MP, urging the Government to give the Arco report and its findings proper consideration.

With a right and responsibility to comment, Arco’s report offers insight into their experiences dealing with Government bodies and other agencies as part of the PPE supply chain. It proposes a 10-point set of recommendations to prevent a repeat of the high-profile issues that were seen during the first wave of the crisis and to ensure the country is better protected in any future pandemic.

In the Westminster Hall debate - Covid-19: NAO Report on Government Procurement - MP Emma Hardy urged the government to “…give their position paper and recommendations the serious consideration they merit.”

With over 135 years of safety experience, its own UKAS-accredited product assurance lab, a 400,000 sqft National Distribution Centre and a team based in China, Hull-based Arco has been at the forefront of the most significant recent global emergencies, including the response to both SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

When the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in the UK, the company played a key role in the response, navigating the global supply chain restrictions that led to an international shortage of certain types of PPE.

Arco’s product and supply chain specialists worked quickly to source, procure and distribute over 140 million face masks, 18 million gloves, over 50,000 coveralls and 5,000,000 hygiene products to the NHS, ambulance services, other public health bodies, local authorities and critical industries.

The first stage of the crisis saw a severe global shortage of PPE at a time of exceptional demand and a poor centrally coordinated response. Early in the pandemic there were many examples of a broken supply chain with frontline workers left without critical PPE. A number of suppliers, like Arco, were holding stock but unable to work with the Government and its agents to supply PPE where it was needed the most.

More recently, a National Audit Office Report has highlighted examples of PPE supply contracts being awarded opaquely to organisations with no history of PPE manufacture and supply, who were ultimately unable to fulfil orders. In some cases, non-compliant products were supplied that increased the risks to the public, care home staff and NHS workers. Much money was spent unnecessarily.

To address these issues and ensure future preparedness, Arco has developed a set of recommendations based on its experiences during 2020, set out in its Position Paper.

Key highlights include:

  1. Registration of competent PPE suppliers to be allowed to supply Cat II and Cat III products, ensuring product compliance and quality.
  2. The Department of Health and Social Care to conduct a thorough review and stress test of its systems from the perspective of suppliers and buyers.
  3. Reform of the Government’s purchasing portal to screen out unsuitable, or unqualified, companies.
  4. An education programme to upskill NHS Trusts, local authorities and care home procurement officers in how to understand PPE standards and source and purchase suitable equipment.
  5. The Government to publish a roadmap for the full reimplementation of the PPE Regulations, to reduce the likelihood of poor quality or ineffective products entering the UK.

Thomas Martin, Arco’s Chairman said: ‘”2020 will be a year that none of us forget.  It has been a year of sadness and uncertainty for so many people.  Our core purpose is to help keep people safe and we responded immediately the pandemic was declared, working 24/7 to help make sure those at the frontline of the response were properly protected.

“From the outset, we were both frustrated with the procurement system and deeply concerned by some of the simple mistakes made across the UK through a lack of experience of procuring the PPE needed.  The NAO report and findings very much reflect this experience.  As an established safety business, we feel it’s our duty to report on our experiences and to support the Government in continuing to help deal with the pandemic.  We urge the Government to act on our recommendations to ensure we can all be better prepared for any future emergencies.”

To see the full report visit www.arco.co.uk/recommendations

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Arco joins National Emergencies Trust 11/11/2020

UK safety expert Arco has joined forces with the National Emergencies Trust (NET), an independent charity that raises and distributes funds at speed during domestic crises, with a major donation to support its core funding.

The NET’s recent Coronavirus Appeal has raised £94million to support people impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic UK-wide, including the isolated, shielding and vulnerable.

The quarter of a million-pound donation from Arco towards the NET’s core funding, will continue to enable the NET to activate appeals at speed when the worst happens, by preparing and building its fundraising strategies and networks, liaising with the Government and wider sector to ensure policies and processes reflect survivor needs, and collaborating with them to ensure collective and immediate support for survivors. 

Lord Richard Dannatt, chairman of the National Emergencies Trust, says: “We are delighted to welcome Arco to The National Emergencies Trust’s Patron’s Circle. Their support for our core activities is invaluable, enabling us to develop, prepare and grow so that when the next national disaster arises, we can be ready to launch an appeal at speed, getting vital funds out to those in urgent need. We are hugely grateful for their support.”

Emergencies require rapid response and the NET creates a shared point of reference so that the public can donate to one central organisation, to limit confusion and ensure people receive the help they need quickly. During its recent Coronavirus Appeal, the NET allocated £89million to Community Foundations and other national funding partners across the UK as fairly as possible. In turn, helping to respond to the inequalities faced by the most-at-risk groups in society.  

Arco, now a ‘Core Funder’ and member of NET’s ‘Patrons Circle’, has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, operating as a key supplier to the NHS, ambulance services, local authorities, other public health bodies and critical industries. This year, Arco’s Community Panel also invited employees to apply for 42 one off grants of up to £1000 on behalf of organisations and charities in their local communities that required vital support or funding during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in donations totalling £41,600 to support local community organisations. 

David Evison, managing director of Arco, says: "We believe safety is a fundamental human right. This year's emergency has had devastating repercussions for the welfare of our communities, and the NET can channel our determination to help in the best possible way. The £250,000 donation to the NET forms part of Arco’s commitment to support good causes each year. Arco is honoured to support the NET’s mission to help those affected by a national emergency at their time of greatest need.”
For more information, visit: www.arco.co.uk

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Managing the winter months 05/12/2018

In its latest educational campaign, Arco is emphasising the importance of layering this winter to ensure workers remain comfortable throughout the colder months as well as remaining safe.

Arco points out that being uncomfortably hot, wet or cold can cause irrational and unsafe behaviour as employees take shortcuts to avoid being exposed to these conditions for long periods of time and their ability to make decisions deteriorates. It says that employers need to recognise that in order for employees to work at their optimum productivity level, they must be able to maintain a comfortable body temperature. It’s also vital that employers understand that allowing workers to continue working in uncomfortably wet or cold conditions is detrimental to their wellbeing and can become a safety risk. 

One of the most effective ways to protect employees against their thermal environment is to provide them with a suitable layering system. A layering system simply means providing different garments so workers can adapt what they wear to the changing weather, their work activity and their personal needs. Multiple layers are also more effective and less cumbersome to wear than a single bulky item.

This includes:

  • An outer layer to shield against wind, rain and scuffs with breathable properties to help prevent overheating
  • An insulating mid later to provide warmth and comfort 
  • A base layer to offer additional thermal properties but also wick sweat away to help keep workers dry

To ensure employers are fully educated on protecting workers from the winter elements, Arco has created a dedicated section on its website and a free expert advice sheet for customers to download. Additionally, Arco has launched an all seasons, 3-in-1 jacket that offers versatility by providing two layers that can either work separately or together to offer an enhanced level of protection. 

As well as a quality layering system, employers need to ensure their workers are provided with fully waterproof clothing if they spend the majority of their working day outside. This includes those who require hazard protective clothing such as hi-vis. In order to give customers a choice of waterproof clothing, Arco’s GORE-TEX Fabric product range allows wearers to work in comfort while protected from the wind and rain.

The GORE-TEX outdoor clothing range is tested to almost eight times the minimum standards and is said to guarantee that water from the outside will never penetrate, wind cannot pass through and perspiration from inside escapes easily – ensuring the body is kept warm and dry. 

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Big Book launched 05/10/2018

The latest edition of the Arco Big Book has been published offering a large range of safety equipment, workwear, and workplace safety products with prices to suit every budget.

This year, Arco has introduced over 250 new products to ensure it offers the latest in product development and innovation from its own brands as well as specialist leading brands.

Dedicated to keeping people safe at work, Arco is an expert partner for businesses across all industry sectors, whatever the health and safety challenges those business owners may face. With product quality and compliance one of the most important factors for customers when choosing their supplier, Arco has invested heavily in its own, in house, independently accredited Product Assurance Laboratory. The company is taking a lead to drive improvements in quality standards across the industry and customers can be sure the products they buy from Arco meet the required standards and will protect their workers.

Arco is also making it easy for customers to keep up to date with the recent changes in standards.  For cut resistant gloves, the Arco Cut Control System has been updated to comply with the latest EN388:2016 standard. Glove protection is easily identifiable from the use of the number/letter and colour combination to ensure users are always aware of their protection levels. Innovations in hand protection focuses on a range from HexArmor, offering ultra-high cut and needlestick protection, featuring cut resistance with SuperFabric technology. Gloves can offer needlestick protection to ASTM F28278 hypodermic needle puncture test levels 4 and 5.

Following changes to legislation in ladder safety and the introduction of EN 131, the one single ladder standard update is aimed to improve the safety of ladders, reduce ladder related accidents and make the process of selecting the right ladder straight-forward. The new catalogue features ladders that are fully compliant with the new standard, making the selection process simple and accurate.

A key introduction in hazardwear is a new range of multi-norm garments from Sioen including a polo shirt, softshell, coveralls and waterproof jackets all conforming to multiple European Standards. Available in hi-vis yellow and orange, arc, FR and anti-static in lightweight inherent fabrics.

Office Wear has also been expanded, with the introduction of new brand Kustom Kit offering corporate shirts in a wider range of colours plus Rowlinson, offering knitwear designs for the corporate market. The new Regatta contrast range allows wearers to mix and match garments with coloured features and details, with the option to have them branded with a corporate identity by the Arco Clothing Centre – an easy solution to creating on-brand uniforms.

In the safety footwear section, customers will find new styles in the Trojan range that look good and work hard with a safety hiker and trainer designed for comfort and style with nubuck leather or canvas uppers that make these styles breathable and lightweight.

Finally,customers can ensure their teams are safe and compliant with training and consultancy services from Arco Professional Safety Services. Experienced, safety and health practitioners work with clients to understand what safety looks like for their organisation.

To get your copy of the new Arco Big Book, visit your nearest store or go online to www.arco.co.uk/catrequest.

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Tough foot forward 27/07/2018

Arco has launched its new collection of slip-resistant footwear, introducing new athletic styles from the TROJAN range. These are designed to meet the needs of today’s workers for modern, athletic footwear that prioritises comfort without comprising safety. 

Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of major injury in UK workplaces. Between 2014/15-2016/17, an estimated 979,000 working days were lost due to such incidents equating to an average of 8.8 working days lost per case. To help reduce these accidents and ensure workers are protected from injuries, it is critical they wear the appropriate safety footwear that has been tested to comply with the relevant safety standards.

The new range of TROJAN footwear exceeds these standards and has been tested in the company’s independently accredited Product Assurance Laboratory, achieving EN ISO 20344:2011 and the EN ISO 13287: 2012 standard for slip resistance. Products in TROJAN’s new range include:

TROJAN Nireus S1P Safety Hikers - This hiker is suitable for workers who want the protection of a traditional safety boot that looks casual, but which has a range of safety features. The fashionable exterior conceals the steel toecap, penetration-resistant stainless steel midsole and antistatic properties. The outsole is said to provide superb resistance to slipping.

TROJAN Nireus S1P Safety Trainers - These lightweight safety trainers offer protection while still looking stylish. Featuring an outsole that provides excellent slip-resistance, the trainers have antistatic properties, a steel toecap and a penetration-resistant midsole, which are both hidden within the trainer. 

TROJAN Pandia II S3 Safety Boots – These high-top sneakers are lightweight and durable and with an outsole that provides excellent resistance to slipping, they are suitable for workers who need reassurance that their shoes have good grip. The aluminium toecap and composite midsole means that workers will be able to wear them all day without the risk of pain or discomfort. 

TROJAN’s slip resistant footwear is tested by replicating various potential hazards in the workplace. The level of slip is then graded on each shoe using the following codes: SRA, SRB, SRC, highlighting whether it will protect workers on ceramic tiles, steel floors, or, whether they are suitable for both. The new TROJAN range provides complete SRC protection. 

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CE is no guarantee 29/06/2018

CE markings are no guarantee of safety, according to Neil Hewitt, divisional director, Quality and Technical Standard at Arco. Here, he discusses the potential risks for your business

Although we enjoy the benefits of working in one of the safest places in the world, with the lowest incident rates of work-related deaths in the EU, there’s a gap in the compliance process that is putting UK workers at risk of injury, even though they are using CE-marked PPE they believe will protect them.

As a health and safety manager, you may believe that you and your people are fully protected and compliant when you specify or buy PPE. The reality is that some CE marked PPE is failing, putting wearers at risk of injury and businesses and individuals at risk of loss of reputation, fines and even possible imprisonment.

The evidence is undeniable: Independent laboratory testing in 2017 showed that around 40% of non-metallic footwear and 30% of rigger gloves failed surveillance testing, despite carrying the CE mark.  

With around 600,000 workers each year reporting that they have suffered an injury at work, the consequences of failing to apply due diligence to PPE purchasing are huge. Without a robust process in place, accidents and injuries could be life changing and not just for end users but for the individuals (and the businesses they work for) who are involved in specifying and purchasing the equipment. www.arco.co.uk

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Cut protection range 16/07/2018

Arco, the UK safety expert, has launched its new range of cut protection safety gloves, providing workers with its most comprehensive hand protection range to date, meeting the revised EN 388:2016 standard whilst educating employers about the changes to cut level testing.

Between 2016/17, there were over 17,521 non-fatal injuries affecting the hand and wrist. 12,325 of these instances resulted in workers needing to have over seven days’ absence. Hand injuries continue to be the leading cause of workplace injury and these could be prevented through workers wearing the right gloves for the job, with proven protection that is compliant to safety standards.

Arco’s high cut resistant gloves continue to offer high level protection and undergo rigorous testing in the company’s independently accredited Product Testing Laboratory to ensure this.

Arco’s  high cut protection range, Cut 5E, however, has been re-designed to clearly highlight the level of safety it provides on the back of the gloves, in-order to increase understanding about the protection levels which is a key requirement in the revised standard.

There are 11 products in the range that has been revamped to become more lightweight, comfortable and durable, whilst still achieving high cut protection levels in line with the new protocols of EN 388:2016.  The gloves are also available in various coatings including: polyurethane, sandy foam nitrile, nitrile dots, latex and leather.

EN 388:2016 superseded the original cut glove standard from 2003 and tests gloves against mechanical hazards such as abrasions, blade cuts, tears, punctures, and impact. The new cut testing process is designed to better stimulate real-life situations, such as an accidental cut, and is particularly relevant where injuries are likely from heavier objects or undergo greater force.  By 21st April 2019, all safety gloves must be compliant to this standard.

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Cut protection safety glove range 19/06/2018

Arco has launched its new range of cut protection safety gloves, providing workers with its most comprehensive hand protection range to date, meeting the revised EN 388:2016 standard whilst educating employers about the changes to cut level testing.

Between 2016/17, there were over 17,521 non-fatal injuries affecting the hand and wrist. 12,325 of these instances resulted in workers needing to have over seven days’ absence. Hand injuries continue to be a leading cause of workplace injury and many of these could be prevented through workers wearing the suitable gloves for the job, with protection that is compliant to safety standards.

Arco’s high cut resistant gloves continue to offer high level protection and undergo rigorous testing in the company’s independently accredited Product Testing Laboratory to ensure this.

Arco’s high cut protection range, Cut 5E, however, has been re-designed to clearly highlight the level of safety it provides on the back of the gloves, in-order to increase understanding about the protection levels which is a key requirement in the revised standard.

There are 11 products in the range that has been revamped to become more lightweight, comfortable and durable, whilst still achieving high cut protection levels in line with the new protocols of EN 388:2016.  The gloves are also available in various coatings including: polyurethane, sandy foam nitrile, nitrile dots, latex and leather.

EN 388:2016 superseded the original cut glove standard from 2003 and tests gloves against mechanical hazards such as abrasions, blade cuts, tears, punctures, and impact. The new cut testing process is designed to better stimulate real-life situations, such as an accidental cut, and is particularly relevant where injuries are likely from heavier objects or undergo greater force. By 21st April 2019, all safety gloves must be compliant to this standard.

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PPE Regulations advice 19/05/2018

Arco is helping buyers navigate the complicated waters of the new PPE Regulation, offering clear guidance.

The new PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 brings about the most significant changes to the rules on PPE, since the introduction of the first Directive over 20 years ago. 

The changes are designed to ensure ongoing product safety and assurance and to better reflect the needs of those buying and using PPE to keep them safe at work. 

From 21st April 2018, the transition requirements of the new Regulation came into force and all those responsible for the purchase of PPE, need to ensure that their suppliers are able to meet the new Regulation requirements.  Arco has published an up to date summary of the Regulation, available free on the company’s website, which will help purchasers understand what the requirements mean for them.  The document includes key dates, a summary of the changes, advice on working with a trusted supplier and guidance on how to check that any PPE complies with the new regulation.

The rules of the new Regulation apply to the whole supply chain, not just manufacturers and clearly define that an importer or distributor who markets PPE products in Europe under their own name, brand or trademark, becomes liable for the full manufacturer’s obligations.  As the industry leader, Arco has  a well-established 5-step product assurance process and has also published all declarations of conformity at https://conformity.arco.co.uk/.

Neil Hewitt, Arco’s Divisional Director of Quality and Technical Standards, said: ”The new PPE Regulation puts the obligation on everyone involved in the manufacture, supply and distribution of PPE, including Arco, to ensure their products meet with the required standards, that they keep technical files and records and that they carry out sample testing on their PPE where appropriate.  With the investment we’ve made in product assurance and our own laboratory, we are well placed to meet the new obligations and to assure customers that they are buying from a reliable, fully compliant supplier.  The new regulations have introduced significant changes for both suppliers and buyers and we’ve put together some useful resources that are free to download from our website, to help customers navigate the new rules and we urge them to make sure they keep their people safe by working with a trusted supplier.

For more information, please go to the dedicated section on the Arco website for more information: www.arco.co.uk/regulation

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Superbrands list 23/03/2018

Arco has announced that it is on Britain’s Superbrands business list for the third consecutive year, demonstrating its position as a leading safety company with a dedication to keep workers safe.

The Superbrands list is an annual initiative, celebrating the UK’s leading business-to-business brands. In this year’s selection process, Arco was judged against more than 1500 companies from 62 sectors for factors such as quality, reliability and distinction.

Arco distributes a range of 170,000 world-class quality assured branded and own brand products and can deliver expert advice, training and consultancy. It also has its own Product Assurance Laboratory to test equipment, ensuring optimum safety is achieved.

It offers expert advice in areas such as skin safety, confined spaces, working at height and Face Fit Testing, where experts provide on-site training and education about how to ensure the appropriate management of such issues.

Lee Morton, Head of Brand & Proposition Development at Arco, said: “We are supremely honoured to have been named one of Britain’s Superbrands for the third consecutive year. It goes without saying that the core foundation of our industry is to ensure worker safety.  As the UK’s leading safety company, producing quality products that meet or exceed health and safety standards is at the heart of this commitment and is reflected in the investments we are making in quality and product assurance.” 

The identification of Superbrands is completed through a rigorous survey of 2500 business professionals from across the UK that is assessed by The Centre for Brand Analysis (TCBA) and the independent voluntary Business Superbrands council.

Stephen Cheliotis, Chief Executive of TCBA and Chairman of the Business Superbrands Council said, “A potent reputation is a critical advantage for a company. As an annual barometer of brand strength, those companies performing well in this year’s Business Superbrands survey can take confidence in their reputation. Being a leading Business Superbrand is not just about being the most well-known, but also about standing out from rivals and being perceived to consistently deliver a good quality service or product. The fact that the Business Superbrands process canvasses both business-to-business marketing experts and business professionals reaffirms on all counts that the brand is performing well”.

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