Lack of guidelines leaves PPE makers confused

Many land in soup after kits rejected

Published - June 25, 2020 12:15 am IST - COIMBATORE

Workers stitching PPE at a garment unit in Coimbatore.

Workers stitching PPE at a garment unit in Coimbatore.

With personal protection equipment (PPE) kits manufactured by many in the garment sector in Tiruppur and Coimbatore districts reportedly not meeting the standards set by HLL Lifecare Limited, the nodal organisation for procurement of PPE, several first-time manufacturers of the kits appear clueless about safety norms.

A garment manufacturer in Tiruppur, who did not want to be identified, said that almost all PPE and mask manufacturers in the region are “first-time manufacturers” of the products. They know little about the fabric to be used or standards to be maintained for PPE, and they supply mainly to HLL, he added.

“Every one made PPE with the knowledge that they had,” he said. Testing laboratories also tested the fabric for one main factor — synthetic blood penetration at two main points in the garment. Following reports of poor quality PPE, HLL started testing more samples randomly. “According to available data, it looks like just about 200 of the 1,000 samples tested by HLL passed the test,” he said.

While a few did make efforts to make quality products, there were manufacturers who started work with inadequate knowledge about the product, and opted for low-quality fabrics.

Now, only those with approvals will be able to continue manufacturing. Many have also invested heavily in seam sealing machines. Another manufacturer in Coimbatore said that with HLL holding back payments, many are in deep trouble. The manufacturer said: “There is ambiguity on issues like where will the rejected goods go? What are the standards for fabric producers for PPE?”

There is no clarity on the quantity of stocks with manufacturers and the loss they are going to incur if they do not get payments for the PPE supplied. Those who supply poor quality products should be penalised. Since this is the first time the manufacturers are making PPE, the others should be guided and supported to rectify the products to meet the standards required. The U.S. and European countries have clear standards for PPE for each type of user. India should now come out with clear guidelines, the manufacturers added.

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