The number of fake, counterfeit safety equipment in the Australian market is alarming. A quick search on EBay Australia will bring up hundreds of potentially fake safety items.
For example, you will find safety respirators such as the 3M half-face respirators 6000 series for AU$9.29 plus $2.99 postage from Brisbane to Sydney (Jun 2019).
Shop For Safety, an online retailer of safety equipment, is an authorized 3M re-seller. Shop For Safety purchases their 3M products from Amare Safety, an authorized OHS products distributor for 3M in Australia.
Shop For Safety can purchase the 3M half-face respirator 6000 series for AU$28.96 each if they purchase 10 units or more, according to the owner Luciana Paroli. This is the cost without transport costs to get the box to Shop For Safety Sydney’s warehouse or any other overheads. $28.96 is the price for retailers on the current distributor’s catalogue.
On top of the transport cost and overheads, there is the postage cost out to the client. Shop For Safety sends over one hundred parcels a week. The lowest price they can get to send one of these items with Australia Post (500g standard parcel) between Sydney and Brisbane is AU$6.40.
Maybe other stores might send it for AU$5 with cheaper couriers, but $2.99 is just impossible because the item is relatively bulky. It cannot be sent as a letter.
Big chains like Bunnings can get 3M products a bit cheaper by purchasing it at wholesale price direct from 3M, but no small – medium resellers or stores can get the original 3M half-face respirators 6000 series for less than about AU$25 inc. GST in Australia.
So, how can anyone based in Australia sell it for half of that or even less?
There is only one possible answer: They are selling counterfeits, fake safety products sold as originals.
It is important to stress that this is not the same as buying a fake Gucci bag or some sort of fake designer clothing. The purchase of any fake items should not be condoned, but at least fake clothes or accessories are unlikely to put your life in danger.
To buy fake safety items is a VERY bad idea, which might lead to seriously bad consequences.
Safety items are meant to protect employees from dangers presented by the type of work performed.
Renowned Manufacturing companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on research and development of their safety products. Their production lines have strict procedures and protocols to make sure their final products meet Australian and International standards. They also have high quality standards.
A counterfeit safety product will never have the same quality standards; this is one of the reasons why they can be sold so cheap. Factories that produce counterfeit safety products use lower quality materials, which might malfunction when you need them the most.
There is a belief that factories used to manufacturer safety equipment for big brands produce more and sell them in the black market, so products are not actually fake items. This might be true for a very small number of cases, but overall, the majority of cheaper versions are just fake products made in a different factory or someone’s backyard shed with lower standards.
How lower? It will be your own risk to find out if you decide to purchase a fake safety item or an "original" that costs half of the price the other stores are selling it for.
Respirator systems are meant to protect the worker‘s respiratory system from fumes, smoke, asbestos and other dangerous vapors, which might be present at workplaces. A counterfeit respirator might not be actually protecting the user, it might be just a piece of junk attached to their face and giving them the illusion to be protected.
The counterfeit respirator mask might not seal properly and allow un-filtered fumes into the worker’s lungs.
Everyone has the right to be safe while working in Australia so don’t cut corners and enter on a race to the bottom for the cheapest safety items.
Why risk it? Buy original items from authorized re-sellers and be safe!