Last Updated 4:03pm, 18 May 2020
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is vital to our response against coronavirus (COVID-19).
As the nation faces an unprecedented demand for PPE, there is a limited supply coming into the county for our frontline workers, including social workers, care home staff and volunteers.
Despite the challenges, we are working hard to ensure a broad and diverse supply line so that these front line workers continue to have the PPE they need.
We are also committed to supporting other organisations and individual carers as best we can if they are struggling to source their own PPE.
We are receiving lots of calls and emails with offers of help to supply items of PPE, from those wanting to donate items or asking for advice about manufacturing, while others are enquiring about funding that may be available to help businesses or community enterprises that want to make PPE.
We are keen to support those interested in contributing to the supply of PPE and have developed the following guidance to help signpost businesses, groups and individuals, to information that will help.
If you are a commercial manufacturer or distributor of PPE or a business considering entering the PPE supply market
We welcome all enquiries from commercial suppliers able to provide products that meet our procurement and quality standards criteria.
All commercial suppliers of Personal Protective Equipment should contact our Procurement team via firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also find it useful to visit the COVID-19 Support for Business pages on the Heart of the South West Growth Hub website.
If you are seeking financial support to enable you to produce PPE
Our COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund provides flexible resources to organisations working with communities to safely address some of the issues that are arising because of the coronavirus outbreak.
There are two separate grants available through the Fund; one of less than £500 and one of between £500 and £5,000.
Applications are accepted from constituted and not-for-private-profit voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector groups and organisations, town and parish councils, charities or businesses, or a combination of such groups working together.
Don’t forget, depending on where you expect your PPE products to be used, you’ll need to engage with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure your products meet the essential safety requirements and claims about the effectiveness of the products you manufacture are substantiated.
Our Trading Standards team also has lots of useful guidance for businesses supplying PPE on their website.
If you are intending to manufacture and supply PPE type products free of charge to workplaces
The production and supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for workplace use is a regulated sector and you will need to engage directly with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure your products meet the essential safety requirements and claims about the effectiveness of the products you manufacture are substantiated.
There is lots of useful government guidance on producing PPE:
- GOV.UK – Regulatory status of equipment being used to help prevent coronavirus (COVID-19)
- GOV.UK – PPE regulations
- GOV.UK – New High-Volume Manufacturers of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- GOV.UK – New Small-Scale Manufacturers of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Commission Recommendation (EU) on conformity assessment and market surveillance procedures within the context of the COVID-19 threat
British Standards Institute is providing free access to the PPE Standards for a limited time.
Our Trading Standards team also has lots of useful guidance for businesses supplying PPE on their website and are waiving fees for bespoke regulatory advice for all our Devon and Somerset business customers until the end of July so if you would like further advice for your business, please get in touch.
If you are intending to provide cloth face coverings free of charge to the community for domestic, non-work purposes
It is important to remember that, although your product is not for the workplace and is being supplied free of charge, it still needs be compliant with the general principles and purpose of product safety legislation. Nobody wants to supply a product that does not meet the essential safety requirements and fails to provide any protection from coronavirus (COVID-19).
Unlike supplying PPE for the workplace, products produced by the community, for the community and distributed free of charge are not subject to the same regulatory measures, but it remains that you should not make any claims about the effectiveness of the items, or any protection given by them.
If you’re producing PPE, either commercially or for free, and want to be put in touch with people or establishments in need of products
Unfortunately, we can’t put suppliers in touch with those in need of PPE. This could be seen as endorsing certain manufacturers or distributors, which we are unable to do because we can’t verify products as safe and fit for purpose.
We recommend taking your own active steps to promote your products and advise those buying or being gifted PPE to check its suitability before using it.
If you are making a general offer of business support in response to coronavirus (not necessarily relating to PPE)
We would encourage you to visit the governmental portal to let them know how your business might be able to help with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
You may also find it useful to look at the government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy “Our Plan To Rebuild” published in May 2020.