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‘End of the road’ for this long relationship?

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor
The SABS and testing policies
Pretoria (SA) – The safety footwear industry's strained relationship with the SA Bureau of Standards over its testing policies and the performance of its laboratory shows no sign of improving.
        Neptun Boot confirmed it had stopped using the SABS laboratory - a move it threatened last year - "as we don't get results, nor do we get replies to correspondence. [Auditor] Adri [Croucamp] is the only one who tries to assist," Neptun MD John Robb said.
        Asked whether Neptun had decided to drop the SABS mark, he said: "Not yet, but within the next few months we will withdraw from the SABS and continue with internationally certified products and licensing. Almost all of our products are internationally certified to EN 20345:2014."
BBF had "started to use other accredited labs", and that withdrawing from the SABS mark scheme was "under consideration", BBF CEO Silvio Ceriani said.
Meanwhile the SABS has declined to respond to questions on its testing. S&V Protect asked it:
- Has the slip resistance testing equipment been commissioned, and is that test now being offered?
- What is the average turnaround time for footwear testing now?
- Can component suppliers submit their products in isolation for testing, or do they have to submit them as part of a made-up shoe?
- Has there been any change to the policy of partial testing?
- Has there been a decline in the number of companies submitting footwear for testing, or in the number of samples being submitted for testing?
-  Do you have any news or plans relating to footwear or footwear component testing which you can share?
In his response, Ian Plaatjes, executive: corporate services, wrote:  
“In 2004, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) decided to deregulate the testing of products in South Africa. This initiative was driven by the interests of industry who successfully argued for government to stop investing in South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) laboratories in order to encourage competition. 
“The Standards Act was subsequently amended in 2008, which effectively reshaped the industry and SABS.  SABS laboratories were no longer state funded and needed to become independent, commercially viable and competitive in relation to international test houses and local laboratories. 
“As a commercial entity, SABS cannot divulge sensitive information, operating models or trade secrets.  SABS is equipped to manage testing laboratories for various products, including shoes.  All tests are conducted according to the requirements of South African National Standards (SANS).  
“In recent years with the increase of imports, especially from the East the need for local testing and quality assurance remains high, however there is a reduction in the number of local requests for testing.  
“SABS works closely with a variety of stakeholders, including government and industry participants.  We convene engagements with the relevant participants if there are any changes, enhancements, or general updates.”

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