Purchasing PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published:  11 May, 2020

UK safety company Arco, has launched a series of expert advice sheets to help PPE purchasers understand the recent changes to regulations and to ensure that any purchased item is genuine and compliant.

The purchase of certain PPE items has become increasingly challenging as the global surge in demand and international supply chain constrictions has led to a shortage of supply. To ease the pressure on manufacturers and distributers there have been efforts to get PPE to frontline healthcare workers more quickly.

- Some PPE regulations have been relaxed

- The HSE has recommended that in specific situations FFP2 rather than FFP3 masks may be used and it has also allowed the use of international code N95

Added to this there has also been an increase of fraudulent activity with unscrupulous suppliers offering non-compliant PPE.

The European Commission and the UK Government have acted to ensure that the most appropriate PPE that protects against the COVID-19 virus is made available to health care workers as easily as possible and therefore has relaxed regulation (EU) 2016/425. This relaxation will last for the duration of the crisis and only applies to PPE used to directly protect against COVID 19 and is for the use of healthcare workers only.

With an influx of PPE from new suppliers, some products entering the market have been found non-compliant and may not provide the appropriate protection, potentially posing a safety risk for the wearer. There is also evidence of false documentation, containing incorrect CE marking and declarations of conformity, making it difficult for purchasers to establish which products offer correct protection.

In response to questions and feedback from customers, Arco’s Quality Director, Neil Hewitt has compiled up-to-date information on the latest evidence, to help purchasers by providing guidance and practical advice on the recent changes. These expert advice sheets are free to download on the Arco website.  https://www.arco.co.uk/coronavirusadvice

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