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News and Updates

All the latest news and updates from the UK's leading supplier of safety clothing and equipment

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  • Arco's Type IIR Mask Achieves High Bacterial Filtration Efficiency Performance

    02 September 2020

    Arco's Type IIR Disposable Surgical Mask Achieves Consistently High Bacterial Filtration Efficiency Performance in Official Inter-Laboratory Comparison Study

    An inter-laboratory comparison (ILC), also known as 'Round Robin Testing Standards', is an evaluation process that validates:

    • The consistency of Standard's driven laboratory test methods
    • The reliability of Standard's driven performance data across different laboratories

    Inter laboratory comparisons are:

    • Commissioned and funded by the European Standards Authorities and technical committees responsible for writing Standards
    • Undertaken by UKAS accredited independent laboratory test and certification service organisations in the UK

    A basic example of an inter laboratory comparison is the assessment of a standardised laboratory fabric cut test. Each participating laboratory must use the same testing components, which in this scenario would be the same fabric and cutting blade. Other stipulated test factors can include test conditions such as room temperature and air humidity levels.

    The individual results, from each laboratory, are then reviewed to identify any variation in the collated results. The ideal outcome of an ILC is consistent test data submitted from across all the participating laboratories.

    Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE)

    An ILC was recently commissioned across several laboratories to assess the bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) test methods of the EN 14683:2019 medical face masks standard.

    The bacterial filtration efficiency determines the level of infective agent retained by the face mask, which directly relates to the amount of bacteria released back through the mask.

    EN 14683:2019 stipulates that the bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) performance of Type IIR disposable face mask must be 98% or greater.

    Arco's Type IIR Disposable Surgical Mask

    Arco's Type IIR Disposable Surgical Mask was selected as the test subject Type IIR mask by the ILC's coordinating laboratory test provider.

    Six individual accredited PPE test laboratories achieved consistent results with the Arco Type IIR Disposable Surgical Mask, all exceeding the minimum performance level of EN 14683:2019's required 98% BFE.

    Across the participating laboratories the highest reported bacterial filtration efficiency result for the Arco Type IIR Disposable Surgical Mask was 99.89%, with an average recorded performance of 99.75%

    In these exceptional times, respiratory protective product assurance has never been so critical to the protection of frontline workers.

    The results of the EN 14683:2019 medical face mask bacterial filtration test method ILC clearly demonstrates the consistent bacteria filtration efficiency performance of the Arco Type IIR Disposable Medical Mask and provides specifiers and users with the affirmation that they are in expert hands.

    Inter-laboratory Comparison:

    EN 14683:2019 medical face mask bacterial filtration test method results using Arco's Type IIR Disposable Surgical Mask.

    Arco's Type IIR Disposable Surgical Mask Mean (Average) BFE Result

    1. 99.74%
    2. 99.87%
    3. 99.62%
    4. 99.60%
    5. 99.89%
    6. 99.77%
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  • UK Safety Expert Arco Wins £53m Contract to Supply PPE to Scotland's Health and Social Care

    24 August 2020

    The UK's leading health and safety expert Arco, has won a £53m contract for the supply of 232 million surgical masks, 6 million FFP3 respirator masks and 2 million visors over a one-year period to Scotland's Health and Social Care. Working partnership with Scottish Manufacturer Alpha Solway, the essential protective equipment will be manufactured locally and will not be dependent on an overseas supply chain, which could be at risk of the restrictions seen during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    To prepare for any future major incidents and be able to respond quickly, Scotland's Health and Social Care will build stock of over 4m FFP3 respirator masks and 3,000 pallet spaces in Arco's National Distribution Centre, which will be continually turned over to keep products in date and the stock levels maintained.

    Arco's recent investment programme in its £30m national distribution centre expansion gave it both the capacity and enhanced customer service requirements to fulfil the contract and its distribution network will ensure that it is possible to get PPE quickly to those who need it most. Scotland's Health and Social Care will also benefit from access to and support from Arco experts who sit on a number of key committees: BSI British Standards, CEN European Standards Committee and the ISO International Standards Organisation. Arco will keep them abreast of any industry developments and will also act as the voice of the health service at those forums.

    As part of the contract Arco will work with Scotland's Health and Social Care Face Fit Testing team and together they will coordinate a face fit testing program on the new masks for over 100,000 RPE wearers. Both Arco and Alpha Solway will work with Scotland's Health and Social Care to introduce new product development forums to develop a new mask for 2021 that will meet the requirements of the wearer in terms of comfort and fit, using the face fit data from records.

    Bryan Lawrie, Commercial Director at Arco said:

    "It is now more important than ever to ensure that the PPE reaching the end user is compliant and offers the correct protection for its purpose. As safety experts, with a wealth of experience and expertise in procuring PPE, including our own independent product testing facility, we are perfectly placed to fulfil this commitment.

    We are delighted to be working with NHS Scotland and look forward to establishing this long-term relationship by guaranteeing the supply of certified products, helping to save lives."

    Stephen Binnie, a Director of Alpha Solway said:

    "We are delighted to be working with Arco to supply this order, and that our partnership has allowed us to fulfil this vital contract for NHS Scotland. Not only are we meeting a large proportion of the Scottish health and social care sector's PPE needs until 2021, but we are also creating 200 jobs in the region, in addition to the 50 jobs already created this year."

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  • New Expert Advice on First Aid in the Workplace

    20 August 2020

    Employers have a legal requirement to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. The right form of first aid can save lives and prevent a minor injury from becoming a major one. To support businesses in their provision of first aid and first aid training, we have created expert advice to help.

    The First Aid at Work Regulations 1981 state that employers are duty-bound to provide adequate and appropriate equipment and facilities to enable first aid to be delivered, in the event that an employee is injured or becomes ill at work. With over 70,000 non-fatal injuries to employees in Great Britain each year, correct and compliant workplace first aid provision and training is crucial.

    Our free first aid expert advice offers comprehensive advice and guidance on a range of topics within the first aid field, helping employers understand their obligations and the expertise, support and range we can offer.

    The advice includes:

    • An overview of first aid regulations and standards, including British Standard vs HSE compliant first aid kits
    • How businesses can select the right first aid kit, including size guidelines
    • First aid training requirements
    • A selection of our first aid kits and training sources

    To help employers with their first aid supplies, we have a new fully comprehensive range of first aid products, including general purpose first aid kits, such as BS8599-1:2019 Workplace First Aid Kits, and more specific ones to help comply with the latest update in regulations, such as BS8599-1:2019 Critical Injury Pack for trauma or catastrophic bleeds. To help employers comply with first aid training regulations, Arco Professional Safety Services also has a full programme of courses, aimed at organisations of all sizes. These include courses on First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work.

    Niall Robinson, Product & Procurement Manager of Workplace Safety at Arco, said:

    "No matter how big or small your business is, accidents and injuries can occur at any time. It's imperative that all employers ensure they have the correct size and number of first aid kits and that they check these regularly, as well as having suitably trained first aiders to treat your employees. With our new First Aid expert advice, we hope to assist as many businesses as possible with their first aid needs - hopefully saving the lives of numerous employees in the process."

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  • Arco Clothing Centre Rainbow Competition

    20 July 2020

    As the UK's leading safety company, with a wealth of experience in responding to a crisis, Arco has played a key role in the UK's response to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the company, staff have made an outstanding contribution to support their customers and the charities and communities close to their hearts.

    There are many examples of teams going the extra mile and at the Arco Clothing Centre in Preston, staff and their families joined together during lockdown to support their 'Spread a Little Kindness' competition and raised over £5,000 for charity.

    The competition was to design a rainbow that could be made, coloured or sewn and entries were so high that the competition was split into four categories, adults, family, 10 years and over and under 10s. After much deliberation by the judges, the overall winner was Julia Gruszka from the 10 years and over group, with her winning rainbow design featuring a colourful hard hat. It was the winner who chose the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to receive the £5,000 donation.

    Paula Wilson, Head of Charities and Fundraising at the Trust said:

    "We are extremely grateful to have been chosen by Julia to receive this wonderful donation of £5,000 from Arco, which will help make a huge difference to our clinical colleagues, who constantly go the extra mile! Recently they have been called upon to work in ways that we could never have anticipated, supporting patients and their relatives in some of the most challenging circumstances. Now it is time to give a little back to these amazing people and help them recover by investing in things that improve their physical and mental well-being so that they too are given space to recover and can continue to provide the very best patient care, long after the worst of this is over.

    We have also been asked to mark the lives of those lost, and so we are also raising funds to provide memorial gardens across our hospitals, this will leave a lasting legacy for families and for staff who lost also lost colleagues and friends to this dreadful disease, helping them to come to terms with their loss and helping them in their journey to acceptance. Thank you once again for supporting us this will enable Lancashire Teaching Hospitals to give a little back to those that who have given so much."

    With its core purpose of keeping people safe and work and supporting frontline workers, Arco has donated £300k to charities related to COVID-19, introducing Arco Community Coronavirus Grants to help local projects support those in need during lockdown, and more recently a £250k donation has been given to the National Emergencies Trust, to support its work helping victims at the time of domestic disaster.

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  • Advice on Purchasing PPE during the COVID-19 Pandemic

    24 June 2020

    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. Also to combat the risk that the COVID-19 virus presents, many companies are now specifying face masks and coverings to protect their workers and customers for the first time.

    If purchasing PPE and face masks during COVID-19, follow the three steps below:

    1. Get Advice on Product Selection

    Assess the hazardous substance in the environment and the level of risk posed to workers, this will include the risk of exposure to viral infection. Issue the most appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise that risk. If full respiratory protection is not required, and the objective is to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, then a face mask will be a more suitable alternative. It is important that the higher levels of protective equipment are reserved for use where necessary, such as by the NHS, frontline responders and industries with specific hazards. Arco recommends Type II medical face masks, they are an effective means of preventing the spread of the virus from one person to another and will offer some protection to the wearer.

    2. Ensure you are buying product that is tested to and compliant with relevant European Safety Standards.

    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.

    When sourcing PPE from a new source, to ensure that you are buying compliant product it is recommended that you ask for the correct supporting documentation. Ask for two documents: a CE Certificate and a Declaration of Conformity. It is also advisable that you check that the documents are genuine and legal, advice on how to do this can be found on the Arco website and through the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF).

    3. Check the Supplier's Ethical Credentials

    Ensure you only work with ethical suppliers, with the increased numbers of new suppliers and extreme levels of demand it is as important as ever to check where your products are being manufactured and worker welfare is ensured. Ask your suppliers to share information about their supply chain, factories and management practices.

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