Trading Standards - Business Advice

Trading Standards COVID-19 Advice

 

Trading Standards advice during COVID-19 response and recovery

Trading Standards provide a wide range of advice to businesses from general trading standard enquires through to particular queries that may be related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) issues.

Discover more advice for businesses within our Trading Standards web pages.

Further advice can be found on the Business Companion website who also have Covid-19 specific advice here

Requests for business advice should be sent to trading.standards@iow.gov.uk
or call 01983 823000 (option 3).

Please note: for consumer complaints you should direct your enquiry to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 113 who will provide you advice on your rights. Trading Standards are notified and referred complaints for further investigation where necessary.

 

Within this web page you will discover business advice which is specifically related to helping businesses to remain compliant COVID-19

Product Safety

Manufacturers and importers of consumer goods must take steps to ensure that the goods being placed on the market are safe. Compliance with certain product safety regulations must be adhered to. During this crisis Trading Standards has been aware of new products being placed on the market, in particular hand sanitising products, PPE and face coverings. We urge businesses to contact us by email: trading.standards@iow.gov.uk for advice on the applicable legislation that may apply to these products to ensure compliance before they are placed into production.

PPE Including Face Masks/Coverings

PPE are products that the user can wear or hold, to be protected against risks at work, at home or whilst engaging in leisure activities. If you describe these products as such they will fall into the jurisdictions of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency if they are used in the workplace. If these products are intended for consumer use they will fall into the jurisdiction of Trading Standards. Such masks within their area must comply with various standards and have supporting documentation.

Following the recent Government announcement about face coverings, for example to be used on public transport, these products will face an increased demand from consumers. If you manufacture these products, you must ensure that any claims used to describe them are accurate and not misleading. Face coverings are intended for the general public and are not PPE or medical devices. You must take steps to ensure that you describe face coverings as such including the limitations offered by them. Options to include to make this clear for consumers are to state that they are not PPE, medical devices, not suitable in medical or care environments. Descriptions about the product's construction including the material used would also be advisable.

All labelling must be legible and in English. Although a face covering is not PPE or a medical device it must be safe and comply with the General product Safety Regulations 2005. The materials used must be non-toxic and the cords present must not pose any strangulation risk to the user. You must also ensure that the face covering you manufacture does not infringe any intellectual property rights of registered Trademarks. The Business Companion website provides further guidance on Intellectual Property.

Further Information about PPE Including Face Masks/Coverings

 

Use of Face Masks Designated KN95

In June 2020 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a safety alert about the quality of masks designated as KN95 and their lack of compliance with European standards. A substantial number of face masks claiming to be if KN95 standards provide an inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor quality accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These masks may also be know as filtering facepiece respirators.

KN95 masks must not be used as PPE at work as their effectiveness cannot be assured.

Hand Sanitiser Products

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there is increased demand for hand sanitiser and surface disinfectant products. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has guidance for

  • Employers who are providing hand sanitiser for their workers and others to use in their workplaces.
  • Existing and new manufacturers of hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants.

View guidance about choosing hand sanitiser, provided by the HSE .

This information may also be useful to members of the public.

Further information can be found in the Office for Product Safety and Standards guidance document - Placing hand cleaning and sanitising products on the UK market

Fake Medical products and Other Counterfeit Goods

During this period, it is especially important to be cautious of fraudsters seeking to profit from the high demand for preventative and curative products. Information from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) says that fake medical, personal protection and hygiene products including counterfeit masks, medical devices, disinfectants, sanitiser and test kits are starting to appear on the market. Such products are claimed to be largely ineffective and detrimental to health with them being approximately three times the normal price.

OLAF said that while it does not ordinarily publicise inquiries at such an early stage, the decision was made to announce the investigation so as to warn the public about the sale of fake products, as well as offer reassurances that the issue is being handled.

The statement from the agency included photographs of counterfeit masks. One boasts packaging featuring characters from the Disney movie franchise Frozen, in a bid to appeal to customers with you children

"OLAF is acting immediately to stop this, working closely with national Customs Agencies"

Weights and Measures

For traders who rely on weights and measures equipment for continuing to operate their business, Trading Standards will continue to offer verification services for equipment that is deemed essential to be re-verified by an Inspector of Weights and Measures. You should direct your enquiry, ideally by email, to trading.standards@iow.gov.uk where your enquiry will be actioned by an officer.

Animal Health and Welfare

Advice for pet owners and livestock keepers on maintaining the welfare of their animals during the Coronavirus pandemic can be found at GOV.UK website - animal and plant health

Scams Targeting Businesses during COVID-19

At a time when businesses are already facing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the proliferation of related scams are adding further strain on businesses. This includes scams directly targeting businesses – such as tax refund frauds – which can lead to significant financial losses for businesses.

Scams targeting customers also undermine businesses, as criminals often impersonate businesses to defraud their customer base, causing reputational damage and potential loss of business. The emotional and mental impact on employees and business owners who have fallen victim to a scam can also be devastating and long-lasting.

The increased risk for businesses has led National Trading Standards to encourage more businesses to join Businesses Against Scams. The initiative provides free tools for businesses to help upskill and train their workforce, through free online training modules that will help staff identify and prevent potential scams.

For more information on business scams please visit IWASP (Isle of Wight Against Scams Partnership) web page.