Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, there has been a surge in demand for quality personal protective equipment (PPE). With demand being through the roof many industries including the healthcare and foodservice industries were on a quest to find reliable and consistent suppliers, but as companies struggle to maintain and recover from the pandemic, there have been reports by the FBI and several organizations of fraudulent PPE equipment being obtained by companies and healthcare systems. Most recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 100,000 counterfeit 3M surgical masks in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This threat not only puts individuals at significant risk but also exposes businesses to major liability risks. This fraudulent disruption especially during an urgent community medical need makes a reliable supply chain and distributor even more vital.
Counterfeit PPE exposure can be costly as it affects health measures and business productivity. And with the current medical climate, there is no room to make assumptions about quality or cut corners when it comes to safety.
Some of the top PPE products being counterfeited include nitrile gloves, N95 masks and regular masks being posed as medical masks. These items must undergo a rigorous amount of testing, certifications, and approval by the FDA and or NIOSH depending on the usage before they are signed off for distribution. This enormous process directly reflects the cost of PPE equipment as quality PPE is not cheap and is one of the biggest signs to look for when seeking a supplier.
The FBI urges everyone to be cautious and diligent when purchasing PPE products. To protect your employees and company from health risks and liability exposures when purchasing high-quality PPE consider these 5 questions regarding your supplier/distributor procedures and supplies.
Is there FDA approval throughout the supply chain process?
The supply chain can involve many parties, confirming that each party received required FDA certification is crucial to confirm quality and safety.
Is the distributor easily accessible to answer questions and provide documents?
Questions and concerns are inevitable when it comes to product documentation and shipments. Transparency and communication are key in cultivating a successful partnership and securing quality PPE.
Has there been a thorough quality assurance process of the products and factories?
To be able to ensure that products are up to par and meet producing standards can confirm supplier’s quality of products.
Is the supplier able to showcase a record of industry experience and success?
A network of factory and manufacturing relationships to facilitate and build a strong supply chain system to import and produce PPE equipment can give the supplier an agile process.
Can the supplier produce and handle product samples?
An accessible and easy product sampling process will ease concerns and affirm supplier's legitimacy.