shock move  | 

Schools told to stop using another 52 sanitisation products

Hand sanitiser in a classroom

Hand sanitiser in a classroom

Katherine Donnelly

SCHOOLS have been told to stop using another 52 sanitisation products that were supposed to stop the spread of Covid-19, following the recall of the Virapro hand gel last week.

The Department of Education has told principals that there is no evidence that the products are unsafe, but it says it "has not been possible to satisfactorily confirm their registration status" as part of the review.

The move will come as a shock to principals and boards of management who are preparing to reopen on Monday.

As well as schools, other areas of the public service will also be affected, although members of the public are not being asked to dispose of product already in their possession.

“People are, however advised to ensure that future purchases must have a clearly visible PCS or IE-BPA or EU number on the label, “ the Department of Agriculture has advised.

In a letter to principals today, the Department has announced that it is taking 43 biocidal and nine other products off the approved list for schools.

The categories of products impacted are wipes, soaps, hand sanitiser and hand sanitiser refill and detergent.

Last week the Virapro hand gel was the subject of a product recall on health and safety grounds and subsequently all Virapro products were removed from the list available to schools.

“The results of this review now confirm that schools should discontinue the use of certain products and purchase alternative supplies,” the letter states.

The Department has sent principals a list of the products that have been removed and an update approved list advising that schools can order replacement supplies from this list.

The letter states that products are being removed from the approved list for schools "because it has not been possible to satisfactorily confirm their registration status as part of the review."

It adds that Department of Agriculture is engaging directly with the suppliers concerned regarding the status of these products.

The Department of Education said while there was no evidence that 43 biocidal and nine other products were unsafe, they would not be included in the approved list for schools until their registration status had been confirmed.

It said that as part of the schools’ PPE procurement process in June and July, suppliers were required to confirm that their products were compliant with the regulations and to provide documentation,

The Department has added a new supplier - a company that replied to the procurement notice in June and has now confirmed it has the required biocidal registrations - and 23 new products to the list.

Principals have been told that if their school has stocks of the products on the “removed” list, whether purchased through the agreement or purchased locally, they should discontinue using them and store them safely pending collection by the supplier.

The Department has sourced additional products from approved suppliers to ensure sufficient supply and schools will be provided with funding to buy new products.

The letter states that the Department is putting in place supports in conjunction with the suppliers to provide stock to schools in time for re-opening on Monday.

Schools that have engaged with suppliers but still have any difficulty sourcing an alternative supply can contact the Department’s Covid-19 helpline or email address.

The helpline is opening until 8.30pm tonight, from 8am to 8pm Friday and from 10am to 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

In a statement, Department of Agriculture said only products listed on its Biocidal Product Register may be placed on the market in Ireland and more than 450 hand sanitizing products are listed.

The Department said it has been liaising with other Departments, including the HSE and the Department of Education, to ensure that only sanitiser products included on the register are being used across the public service.

Suppliers of biocidal products are legally required to ensure that their products are safe and effective.

The statement added that it had “now become clear that there are some products on the market that are not properly registered.

“Where issues in relation to registration arise, the Department is taking appropriate action, on a precautionary basis.

“Subject to adherence to the usual safety guidelines in relation to products of this nature, and with the exception of products in the Virapro range, which have already been the subject of a recall, there is no reason to believe that the failure to register a product gives rise of itself to specific concerns in relation to safety or efficacy.

“For this reason the department is not requiring members of the public to dispose of product already in their possession,” but said they most bear clearly visible PCS or IE-BPA or EU numbers on the label.

The Department said it was continuing to increase its testing of product on the market to provide reassurance in relation to compliance with approved product specifications.

Suppliers of products that are not correctly registered are being required to withdraw product from sale until registration is regularised and the product is relabelled.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) general secretary, Michael Gillespie said while they recognised and regretted the disruption that this would cause, they believed that recalling the products is the necessary and correct decision.

“The TUI called for a full standards audit of all the products that have been procured and we are pleased that the Department has acted on that call,” he said.

Mr Gillespie urged the Department to ensure that replacement products of the required high standard are supplied to schools as a matter of urgency so that school opening can be sustained.”

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) general secretary John Boyle said it was “very concerning that many of the products on the approved list have now been deemed inappropriate that this information has come to light during the mid-term breaks is very unsatisfactory.

"School leaders and boards of management needed this break to recharge after an incredibly stressful nine weeks,“ he said.

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