BSI - BBC Fake Britain
BSI features in several episodes of the new series of BBC Fake Britain. In these programmes you’ll see tests being carried out on everyday products from CO alarms to face masks. Every year BSI carries out tests on thousands of products, many of which we have in our homes. We test products from all over the world to help manufacturers to design and develop products which are as safe as possible. Tests are usually carried out to check whether they meet a certain standard such as a British Standard (BS).
The filming was carried out at BSI’s Testing Centres of Excellence in Hemel Hempstead and Loughborough. Hemel Hempstead was where the first BSI testing laboratories were built back in the 1950’s and it’s known as Kitemark House. This is because it’s the home of the BSI Kitemark which first appeared on products such as seatbelts, toys, and prams. Although these products are no longer tested by BSI or awarded the BSI Kitemark, many familiar products are still tested at Kitemark House to help to keep consumers safe.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms (Friday 27 November 2015)
Carbon monoxide (CO) is the most common cause of fatal poisoning in the UK, killing 40 people each year and making hundreds more seriously ill. Yet in a survey of professionals conducted last year, 25% of people didn’t know where to put a carbon monoxide alarm.
The most well-known sources of carbon monoxide are gas appliances such as cookers or boilers, but the possible sources are much broader and include any fossil fuel burning appliances such as wood burners or open fires, improperly sited charcoal barbecues or petrol generators. BSI test CO alarms for most major manufacturers and it’s one of the products where you are most likely to see the BSI Kitemark.
A Kitemark on a product means that the alarm has been tested in BSI’s UKAS accredited laboratories and that the manufacturer of the alarm must have a quality system in place which is audited on a regular basis by BSI.
In this programme you’ll see our experts examining the packaging of the CO alarms to ensure they meet the requirements of the standard. The alarms will undergo a high exposure test, followed by a ‘normal’ test one hour later to see how they perform.
Face masks (Tuesday 1 December 2015)
Occupational respiratory disease is a medical term used to describe diseases caused by, or made worse by something you breathe in*. It could be wood or stone dust, or fumes. Certain industries such as construction or manufacturing are recognised as being susceptible, but home DIY can also play a part if face masks aren’t used, aren’t fit for purpose or are of poor quality.
Not all face masks are the same, and you may not be aware that the quality of the dust mask, and the type of dust mask you are buying is critical in order to be sure you are protected.
A dust mask can help you to stay healthy. Specifically, it helps prevent the development of illnesses which could affect your airways – which could reduce the quality and length of your life. Wearing a mask can stop you from developing the symptoms of respiratory illness caused by inhalation of hazardous substances at work or at home (for example, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or difficulty in breathing). Many dangerous substances exist as a fine dust or fume, or as a gas or vapour which you can’t see in the air, but even if you can’t see it, it could still be dangerous for your health. Also, if you think that the activity you’re doing is a quick job and therefore you don’t need a mask, you’re wrong - even a few moments exposure could make you ill.*
This means it’s important to choose the right product for the situation and use it correctly. We test many different types of masks, from disposable masks through to extremely complex breathing apparatus, and there are many industry standards which manufacturers ask us to test against, to prove that they are protecting the user.
In this programme, you’ll see face masks that might be used for DIY, tested using sodium/paraffin oil concentrations to represent fine solid and liquid particles, and dust clogging to represent working in dusty environments. Breathing resistance across the mask was measured to represent potential difficulty breathing when wearing a mask with these filters.
Here are some of the most common standards we test against:
EN 143:2000 (Respiratory protective devices – Particle filters)
EN 140:1999 (Respiratory protective devices – Half masks and quarter masks)
EN 136:1998 (Respiratory protective devices – Full face masks)
EN 149:2001+A1:2009 (Respiratory protective devices. Filtering half masks to protect against particles.)
*HSE, Breathe Easy
Fire Blankets (Wednesday 2 December 2015)
Fire and Rescue Services in Great Britain attended 212,500 fires in 2013-14 which although reflects a downward trend, is still a significant number. Over two thirds of fire related deaths occurred in accidental fires in homes, with the most common time for fires to be reported being between the hours of 8pm-9pm, and the highest number of fires starting off in the kitchen.*
Fire blankets are highly flame-resistant blankets that can be used to smother a small fire, or be wrapped around a person in order to extinguish flames. Manufacturers from around the UK and overseas choose to have their blankets certified in order to prove that they meet the standard for Kitemark which cover domestic situations.
The standard is: BS EN 1869:1997 Fire blankets. Testing involved in the standard includes electrical resistance, performance in fire, how quickly the blanket could be unrolled and ready for use in a real-life situation, as well as checking the marking and instructions for use.
In the programme you’ll see fire blankets being used in demonstration circumstances by fire experts. There will also be checking of the size of the lettering on the box and the instructions for use, as well as checking the size and quality of the blanket inside.
*Department for Communities and Local Government, Fire Statistics: Great Britain April 2013 to March 2014.
Ladders (Thursday 3 December 2015)
Around two million ladders are in use across the UK daily*. As simple, versatile and relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment, there may be a temptation to use them for all sorts of activity without considering whether an alternative, safer method could be used, and maintenance of course is also key. Between 80 and 90 people a year die in ladder related incidents in the UK therefore it’s vital that they are used properly.
One of the first steps to ladder safety is making certain that the ladder meets specific industry standards, and this starts with the manufacturer. At BSI we test many types of ladders of different materials, for both domestic and industrial use, to make sure that specific safety aspects are met and repeatedly checked. Important to note is that ladders for domestic use shouldn’t be used for industrial work as the durability will be different.
Here are some of the most common standards we test against:
BS 2037 : 1994 Portable aluminium ladders, steps and trestles and lightweight stagings (Industrial and domestic)
BS EN 131-1: 2007 +A1: 2011 Ladders, terms, types and functional sizes
BS EN 131-2: 2010 +A1: 20102 Ladders, requirements, testing, marking
Depending on the type of ladder, typical testing requirements include deflection, torsion, rigidity, straightness, loading and performance.
In the programme you’ll see both step ladders and a telescopic ladder being tested for strength by having weights applied to the legs to check for bending and snapping. The ladders are also tested for bowing by loading one side of the ladder at a time with a set weight and measuring the angle of the twist. You’ll also see a visual inspection of the labels on the ladders for any discrepancies between the standard requirements and the manufacturer’s information (BS EN 131).
*The Ladder Association