Product Safety

Product Safety

Measures to support the transition to UKCA

The Government has announced plans to introduce measures to further support businesses transitioning to UKCA marking.  The Government intends to:

  • reduce re-testing costs for UKCA certification, by allowing conformity assessment activities for CE marking completed by the 31 December 2022 to be used by manufacturers as the basis for applying a UKCA marking. This will reduce the immediate costs faced by manufacturers and will be valid until the expiry of their certificate or for 5 years (31 December 2027), whichever is sooner. 

  • make clear there is no need to re-test existing imported stock, as these products will be considered already placed on the market In Great Britain (GB). This will prevent the costly, and unnecessary re-labelling of existing stock for businesses. 

  • make clear that spare parts that repair, replace or maintain goods already on the GB market can meet the same requirements that were in place at the time the original product or system was placed on the GB market. This will allow products and goods requiring spare parts to continue to be maintained. 

  • continue to allow businesses to affix the UKCA marking, and to include importer information for products from EEA countries (and in some cases Switzerland), on an accompanying document or label until 31 December 2025. This will allow business to adjust their product design to accommodate marking changes at a convenient and cost-effective time.

These changes do not apply to medical devices, construction products, transportable pressure equipment, cableways, unmanned aircraft systems, rail products and marine equipment.

Updated guidance on these changes can be found on GOV.UK: Using the UKCA marking and Placing manufactured goods on the market in GB.  Legislation will be brought forward where required to enable these changes.

Changes to toys and cosmetics legislation

The first statutory instrument amending the UK toys and cosmetics regulations has been laid before Parliament.  The Toys and Cosmetic Products (Restriction of Chemical Substances) Regulations 2022 make changes to the toy and cosmetic regulations annexes, either entailing an amendment to the permitted level or the prohibition of specific chemicals in toys and cosmetic products.  The changes in respect of CMRs in cosmetics and fragrance allergens in toys are due to come into effect on 15 October, and changes in respect of chemicals assessed by the Scientific Advisory Group on Chemical Safety come into force on 15 December 2022.

You can find out further information by reading the Planned changes to toys and cosmetics regulations GOV.UK news article.

E Cigarettes

Recent concerns have been raised about the availability on the market of both e cigarette products and their refill products which contain the incorrect and unsafe levels of nicotine. T see the related Government guidance for retailers go to Gov.uk.

To see a related press article where the Trading Standards service will take action go the Chronicle of the 22 November 2021 and the Chronicle of the 24 June 2022

NAO Product Safety Report

On the 16 June 2021 the National Audit Office published a report on the product safety regime. To see a copy of the full report go to Report (pdf 1.3 Mb) 

NHS Concerns on Magnetic Products

The NHS has expressed serious concerns about the safety of certain magnetic products. A potentially life threatening TikTok trend, involving tiny magnets that can be easily swallowed, has triggered the NHS to call for a ban.

These tiny magnetic balls are widely sold as creative toys, with a recent TikTok craze seeing them used as fake facial piercings by teenagers.

The viral prank sees people place two magnetic balls either side of their tongue and wiggle it around, creating the illusion that their piercing is real.

The NHS issued a patient safety alert after at least 65 children were admitted to hospital for urgent surgery in the last three years after swallowing magnets.

The magnetic objects are forced together in the intestines or bowels, squeezing the tissue so that the blood supply is cut off. Ingesting more than one can be life-threatening and cause significant damage within hours.

For more information go to NHS 

Construction Products

On the 19 January 2021 the Government announced that the Office for Product Safety and Standards will be the new regulator for the safety of construction products. Go to Gov.uk

Building Safety Act 2022

To access information on the related draft construction products regulations go to Gov.uk

Obligation Placed on Businesses

Businesses have a duty to supply only safe consumer products and hence consumers have a right to be protected from unsafe products.

What Consumer Protection Legislation states

  • All consumer goods must be as safe as reasonably possible. Some products are dangerous by nature like power tools. These goods must be made as safe as possible and carry instructions and warnings.

  • Toys must carry a CA mark and details of the manufacturer or importer. They must be made to meet certain minimum safety standards. Many toys need an age and safety warning because they could be dangerous for young children.

  • New and second-hand upholstered furniture must be made of materials which resist fire. In most cases the furniture should have a swing ticket showing a lighted match and cigarette, plus a permanent label giving production details.

  • New and second-hand electrical goods and gas appliances must comply with detailed safety rules. Second-hand items should be tested by a competent person before being offered for sale. All these items must be supplied with full instructions.

  • Food containers, packaging and utensils must not transfer substances which could endanger human health or otherwise affect the food. Some of these items need not be marked 'for food use'.

  • Children's nightdresses, dressing gowns and bathrobes must be resistant to fire and therefore need not carry a fire warning label. All other nightwear for children and adults need not be fire resistant and therefore must carry a permanent fire warning label.

  • All cars on offer for sale must be roadworthy. A current MOT certificate is not a guarantee of roadworthiness.

  • Alcohol, cigarettes, fireworks and a range of other products must not be sold to children under 18. If in doubt, seek proof of age.

  • All electrical goods must be safe and electromagnetically compatible.

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 allows consumers to sue manufacturers or importers for injury or damage caused by unsafe products. Anyone affected has this right. Consumers do not have to prove negligence. Liability can rest with the producer of the product or of a particular component or both. This action could be taken in addition to any criminal prosecution.

Products covered by safety legislation include

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005

The purpose of the General Product Safety Directive is to ensure that all products intended for or likely to be used by consumers under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions are safe. The Directive pursues its principal objective of ensuring consumer product safety by;

  • specifying that products placed on the market or supplied by producers and distributors must be safe;

  • defining a safe product;

  • imposing obligations on producers and distributors consistent with marketing safe products;

  • laying down a framework for assessing safety;

  • requiring enforcement authorities to be empowered to take the action necessary to protect consumers from unsafe products.  

  • Go to GPSR Distributors and GPSR Producers for further information.

How to comply with the Legislation

  • Always buy from reputable supplier

  • Look for signs of approval or compliance - Kite Mark, British Standard

  • Make sure products are fully detailed and identified on invoices. Keep all invoices

  • Check all products for damage or other obvious safety problems

  • If in doubt, speak to the supplier and your Trading Standards Officer

Important

  • Any warnings and instructions in respect of goods sold loose must be drawn to the attention of the consumer

  • The law applies to both new and second-hand goods

  • Age warnings on toys are safety warnings

  • Check returned goods for damage if you intend to resell them

  • If you supply goods in response to a specific request, you must ensure that they are safe for that purpose

  • Unsafe products may result in you having to compensate someone who is injured. Supply also covers offering or displaying goods for sale or hire and includes free gifts

  • Products must comply with all relevant safety regulations, not just a British, European or International Standard

  • Importing unsafe products may result in you having to compensate someone who is injured

Product Recalls

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute contains a list of product safety notices and recalls. If you are concerned about the safety of a product, make your concern clear to the retailer, manufacturer or your local Trading Standards Service.

Office for Product Safety and Standards

To access information on product safety go to the website of the Office for Product Safety and Standards

Which? Policy Report on Online Marketplaces and Product Safety

Product testing by Which? has found a succession of unsafe products for sale on online marketplaces in recent years. This includes toxic levels of chemicals in children’s toys; child car seats that are illegal to use in the UK; smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that do not work, and USB chargers that pose a fire or electrocution risk.

With over 90% of people now using online marketplaces to buy an increasingly wide range of consumer goods, these sites are no longer novel ways of shopping but normal practice for millions of people.

The report (pdf 250 kb) sets out the need for action to strengthen the legal responsibilities of online marketplaces and ensure that public authorities have adequate powers, tools and resources to require action from marketplaces when people are put at risk. Specifically, they are calling for a number of actions in relation to the following so that people can be confident they are only buying safe products:

  • Online marketplaces should be required to ensure that consumer products offered for sale by sellers on their sites are safe.

  • The actions that are required by online marketplaces when unsafe products are identified should be clarified.

  • Equip enforcement officers with appropriate powers and resources to police online marketplaces.

  • There should be greater transparency obligations so that consumers are clear who they are buying from.

Press Articles

To see the type of consumer products that the Trading Standards service has an interest in go to the Chronicle of the 23 December 2019.

Contact

Trading Standards service, Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH.  Email: tradingstandards@newcastle.gov.uk  

 

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