Head to toe protection
As a supplier of quality personal protective equipment (PPE) in South Africa, and exclusive distributor of Honeywell Safety Products, HSE Solutions is concerned about the lowering of standards in the PPE industry. CLAIRE RENCKEN speaks to sales director, Stephen Burrow, about how the company is committed to bringing quality back to this sector.
HSE Solutions is a division of Sturrock and Robson Industries. Its head office, warehousing and logistics facilities are based at Tunney Ridge, in Gauteng. In addition, it has national sales and support capacity and a network of distributors, that are well-equipped to provide safety products and solutions to organisations in all industries.
For the fourth consecutive year, HSE Solutions had a stand at the A-OSH Expo. A very impressive one, I might add. You couldn’t miss it, as it literally stood out above the rest.
Burrow was enthusiastic about the exhibition, saying: “It really is a fantastic opportunity for brand positioning and for creating brand awareness, with so many of our existing customers, as well as potential new ones, all under one roof.
“The fact that the expo was co-located with Securex has been great. There is an obvious link between safety and security, so a lot of the visitors who would normally just have attended Securex, have come through to the A-OSH side too.”
After gaining seven years’ experience in the PPE industry, Burrow joined HSE Solutions in June 2014. He is responsible for sales in sub-Saharan Africa, and is passionate about bringing quality back into the PPE industry; so much so that he has written an article about the devaluation of the PPE industry.
In the article, Burrow writes: “How many times do we see companies proclaiming their staff to be their greatest assets? Yet, too many organisations pay lip service to this proclamation by sidestepping their duty to provide optimum protection in the pursuit of short-term gain.
“One of the major culprits contributing to the increased risk of avoidable accidents is the lowering of standards in the PPE industry. The scramble for cheap products that barely meet minimum standards, while offering no safety benefits, has effectively turned the industry into a regressive market where decreasing consideration is given to value, quality, reliability and life-time safety.
“Any procurement manager will strenuously bemoan the steady rise of prices in nearly all categories of products and components, particularly where quality is an imperative. Curiously, though, the price of many PPE products has seen a sharp decline, as low-end products begin to proliferate and saturate the market.
“Numerous buyers have pounced on the opportunity to reduce costs on what is often perceived to be a grudge purchase. The disposable nature of PPE products erroneously strengthens the argument for moving away from high-performance products, while the real cost of using cheaper products does not always enter into the purchasing decision.
“So, what is the case for premium-quality products in these times of austerity? Simply stated, the cost of ignoring the inherent risk that comes with a lowering of standards is simply too high.
“Sadly, the true cost of inferior products is not immediately evident or easily measureable up front. It is only when accidents regularly result in avoidable injuries, that questions are asked and consequences are counted.
“In fact, the actual cost of high-performance products, which adhere to and often exceed the highest industry standards, compare favourably to that of low-end products. Factors that need to be taken into account include:
• High-performance products deliver consistent and predictable performance;
• The efficacy and integrity of the high-performance product is retained throughout its lifetime;
• Premium-quality products invariably last considerably longer than cheaper products;
• High-performance products offer greater protection from those ‘unseen’ risks such as the permeation of harmful and often carcinogenic chemicals;
• Manufacturers of high-performance PPE invest considerable amounts in research and development and constantly pursue innovation; and
• Because they are designed for comfort as well as efficacy, premium products enhance worker compliance.
“To be effective and meet acceptable standards of safety, the PPE industry needs to refocus on its primary responsibility, namely keeping workers safe. Clients should no longer be misled into believing that low-end products offer the same value as premium PPE.
“Manufacturers should continue to advance technology to provide PPE that is innovative and cost-effective. Workers need to be encouraged to comply with safety regulations by being provided with PPE that they wear with comfort, pride and confidence,” Burrow concludes.
The company’s safety brand manager, Leanne Oosthuizen, is just as passionate about quality PPE. “We have recently launched a campaign to create heightened awareness of the critical need for appropriate, quality PPE and are investing heavily in repositioning the brand at distributor level. We have been very vocal through our public relations campaign about the flaws in the safety industry. Our sales force is well positioned and equipped to deliver on our promise and truly add value to the customer experience,” she explains.
So it would seem that HSE Solutions has embarked on a crusade to save the PPE industry from itself. We salute the company’s efforts and will be watching this space.