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PPE Industry News

SARS plans to implement reference price for safety footwear on March 1

Published: 19th Feb 2018

Cape Town (SA) – The SARS footwear task team decided on a minimum reference price for safety footwear imports at its third meeting on February 6, but it is not clear what the price will be.
       Geraldine Fröhling from SARS' communication department responded to questions from S&V:
I know from the previous meeting that the focus of the task team currently is reaching consensus on a reference price for safety footwear imports. What price has been agreed?
• The information on reference pricing is confidential as it is a risk tool used to manage the risk of possible undervaluation on identified high risk goods. Reference pricing is not a minimum price – it is merely, as said, a risk tool used to alert possible under-valuation of imported goods.

If you cannot give me that agreed reference price, please explain why you can't and when importers will be told what the reference price will be.

• Importers will not be informed about risk rules as all types of risk rules are confidential in nature and the risk rules change as and when the risk levels change from high to low risk. Risk rules are part of the internal controls and cannot be shared with traders as this will compromise the required controls.

Why is the reference price in Rands when the importers buy in US Dollars? Surely that prejudices them?

• The reference price is not formulated in South African rands but in US$.

When will the reference price be applied?

• The implementation date is dependent on the section managing the risk engine but it is envisaged to be 1 March 2018 unless otherwise the risk level on such commodity has dropped. How many pairs are currently being imported under the reference price?

• 1 373 856 pairs.

       Please note that the mere fact that goods will be alerted by the risk engine for possible under-valuation, it is not at that stage regarded as an outright fact that the goods are indeed under-valuated. SARS will call for supporting documents and if necessary a valuation audit will be conducted based on the required documents and the risk identified. If the value as declared by the importer is confirmed to be a price paid or payable, the goods may then be released as entered. If any contravention of the Customs and Excise Act is detected, the goods will be dealt with in terms of the provisions for the particular contravention as provided for in the Customs and Excise Act.

Tags: SARS, pricing

55 issued, hundreds to go

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

The NRCS was previously part of the SABS. The 2 have separated, and share the same premises, but they are not co-operating with each other over safety footwear issues.

 The NRCS and safety footwear approval numbers - NRCS, SABS, and the safety footwear industry – no improvement in relationships


Pretoria (SA) – The National Regulator for Compulsory Standards (NRCS) has so far issued approval numbers for 55 styles of safety footwear, according to its latest figures.
It’s not clear how many styles have been submitted by how many suppliers to the NRCS for approval, but it would be reasonable to estimate between 300 and 400 styles and at least 25 suppliers. At the current rate of approvals, it would take 6 to 8 years to clear the backlog, not allowing for new styles coming on to the market.
Local manufacturers have the greatest number of styles but the fewest approval numbers so far.
The BBF Safety Group – overall the single biggest safety footwear supplier – has applied for most of its 180 styles, but has numbers for only 2 of them. Neptun Boot has 12 styles that require numbers, but has thus far only applied for 2 – the first in 2014, the second earlier this year – and has not had a response. Bata, which makes its gumboots locally and imports its leather safety footwear, has submitted around 25 styles, and has had 1 approved.
Manufacturers concerned at the apparent disparity – what they see as possible victimization by the NRCS – have asked the Southern African Footwear & Leather Industries Association (SAFLIA) to take over negotiations with the NRCS, the SABS and the Department of Trade & Industry, under which both fall, on their behalf.
And SAFLIA has responded. “We’ve escalated this issue from company level to association level,” chairman Noel Whitehead said. “We’ve taken it up on behalf of the safety footwear manufacturers because we believe they have right on their side, and because we believe this will have to be resolved at a fairly high government level – an avenue which is easier for an industry association than for individual companies.
“We’re taking this seriously. We need to get a satisfactory response from the SABS and the NRCS and will use all means available to SAFLIA in order to achieve a satisfactory and urgent outcome for our members.”
BBF, with its big range, feels it has been disadvantaged by the “lack of co-operation between the NRCS and the SABS over testing”. At issue is that in terms of the standard which all safety footwear has to adhere to – ISO or SANS 20345 – tests must be done on 3 sizes: 5, 8 and 13. The SABS, however, has up until recently only been testing size 8 samples, and around 80% of BBF’s test reports are only on size 8s. It has asked for either special dispensation from the NRCS on styles already tested, or that the SABS test the missing sizes at no charge. “Neither is budging,” said BBF CEO Silvio Ceriani. “At R55 000 per full test for a style, it’s not an argument we want to lose.
“Our other concern with the SABS is the slow rate of testing. We estimate it will take them between 1 and 2 years to test our samples.”
Not all are that concerned, though. “When the NRCS inspectors come to our factory, they tell us to be patient,” Neptun MD Jon Robb said. “To be honest, we’re more interested in building our brand and business globally than worrying about the NRCS.”
Importers dominate the list, both in terms of number of brands and in number of approvals, but their approval rates are patchy.
Rebel Safety Gear received its first 4 numbers in March, out of an undisclosed number of styles submitted. “We submitted our first applications in May 2014, and have sent through revised applications over time, as the requirements changed and as we understood them better,” GM Rob Gingell said.
In November, Claw Boot received approval numbers for 3 of its most important styles – out of 8 leather and 3 gumboot styles applied for.
Importer ProFit received 1 approval early last year, but completely revised its range in the last quarter of last year, and hopes its numbers will come through soon. “We’ve applied for 8 styles and have been in consultation with NRCS regularly and been to visit with them in Pretoria,” said national sales manager Nicholas Bryant. “We’ve been advised our first approval is imminent.”
“It seems that some companies with a handful of lower end, basic styles have received all or most of their numbers quite quickly,” an industry insider said. “More serious players appear to be at a disadvantage.”


The approval numbers are not yet mandatory, and safety footwear companies can show proof that they have applied for the numbers. “The problem comes when you submit a completely new style,” said a supplier who didn’t want to be named. “Previously the NRCS would issue a temporary permit pending approval. Now, for new styles, you have to go through the entire process, and receive the approval number, before you can import it.”

Sector specialists ‘key to right shoe for the job’

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

From left – Desmond Tilly – mining and construction sector specialist; Derick Else – coastal manufacturing specialist; Mathew Shepherd – inland manufacturing sector specialist; Handré Botha – agriculture and retail sector specialist.

Pinetown (SA) – BBF Safety Group launched a new customer liaison team concept in January.
Dubbed sector specialists, the new team has consultants available for each major industrial sector – mining, agriculture, manufacturing, state owned enterprises and construction. The focus is on intensive knowledge transfer, innovation, efficiency and safety. 
“We’re responding to a very definite gap in the market,” said Ndlela Mazibuko, group sales manager of BBF. “We’ve seen that when products are returned to us, it’s because incorrect advice led to the wrong shoe for the wrong job. We intend to change that, improving safety records and saving our clients money in the process.” 
“Knowledge gets lost along the value chain,” said Peter Gerbrands, group marketing manager. “Procurement and health and safety officers are well informed, but often not experts on footwear. It’s specifically here that we aim to assist our clients.”
The sector specialists are tasked to educate, train and assist procurement departments, health and safety officers and SHEQ managers, as well as gather industry insights in order to better inform and drive product innovation. In this way answers to local industry challenges will be found and continue to be developed by BBF, rather than buyers looking abroad for solutions.  “Our focus is and always has been to stimulate local manufacturing instead of imports,” said Mazibuko.  
The initiative was developed informally over time, with some of BBF’s brands involved in creating specific products for companies, such as Consul Glass, as well as tandem projects with Eskom and Transnet.

Lebogang Mokwele – state owned enterprises sector specialist.

“Information should be a two-way street,” said Gerbands. “If we don’t have a solution, if our product offering is not sufficient, over time we will create one. Co-development towards a specific need, this is the real value of our service.” 
The sector specialists will not be tasked with making sales, instead focusing on education. Their duties will include facilitating training on ways to avoid both under-specification and overspending, insights on how to save budget by buying the right shoes, and providing knowledge on health and safety for their wearers (training they may not receive from employers).
“Currently, when you look at many of the international products, all they have to offer is price,” said Silvio Ceriani, CEO, BBF Safety Group. “Our aim is to provide much more; a service that improves safety and reduces overall spend due to specialised, individual service.”
The sector specialist initiative supports SA government’s objectives to drive local procurement, as well as their mandate for state-owned enterprises to work through small and medium enterprises. 

‘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.”

Reports of blitz on all footwear imports

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor
All safety footwear – locally made or imported – must eventually have the numbers to be compliant with the law, but imported footwear is more immediately affected because it is checked by NRCS inspectors at ports of entry. From the safety footwear importer’s point of view, NRCS numbers – or proof that they have been applied for – are attractive mostly because they supposedly speed up the import process.
Ironically, importers and a clearing agent are reporting that all footwear imports are currently being targeted for inspection.
“The NRCS is only 1 of 5 government agencies which can inspect cargo,” said the clearing agent, who didn’t want to be named, but whose company works with a number of footwear and footwear component importers. He said the most important is SA Revenue Services (SARS) – formerly Customs – which oversees all imports in respect of import duties. The others are SAPS (counterfeits), Port Health Services (disease) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (various agricultural products).
“At least 80% of footwear and footwear component containers are being stopped by SARS,” the agent said. “They’re all being queried.”
Emailed questions to SARS – first to its Durban office, which referred Protect to its media office in Pretoria – asking whether and why these products were being targeted, went unanswered.
Rebel’s Gingell said the NRCS was responsible for the stopping of its containers: “Yes – we’re finding far more containers are being stopped by Durban NRCS. There appears to be little communication between NRCS in Durban and NRCS in Pretoria, about the status of applications.
“We’ve only recently received the NRCS numbers, so we're not yet in a position to say whether this will improve our status with NRCS, and hence reduce the number of stoppages.
“Our containers are still mixed – a container may contain some styles which are approved, and others that are not yet approved. However, we have proof that we have submitted an NRCS application for each style that we are importing.”
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