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General Product and Safety Regulations


Activities affecting the safety properties of a product placed on the market

1. Examples of such activities may include: l assembly of different components, complete in themselves, received, for example, from different manufacturers; l damage or loss of instructions when part of the supplier’s operation is repackaging of the product; l commercial activity.

2. Trade and business activities whether or not they are carried on for the purpose of profit are covered.

Charities and Voluntary Organisations

3. There is no special exemption for charities or voluntary organisations that sell goods on a regular basis, and are for practical purposes engaged in a business activity, from the requirements imposed by the general safety requirement. Charities could not however be expected to have documentation that would help trace the origin of products that are donated free of charge by members of the public, often anonymously. It is not unreasonable though for charities to be subject to the Regulations and expected to keep records in respect of any other product obtained through commercial channels that they may from time to time supply or make available.

4. In cases where products are given away free those supplies will generally be subject to the Regulations where the act of supply is part of a commercial activity. However voluntary organisations that exist solely to provide goods free of charge to the needy are probably not engaging in a commercial activity and are not therefore subject to the Regulations. Similar considerations apply to village fetes and jumble sales (e.g. organised by youth organisations) apart from in respect of stands taken by commercial operations where the activity is clearly commercial even though the profit, or a proportion of it, is to be donated to charity. GPS


5. Means the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC), which was adopted on 3 December 2001.


6. It is not expected that products will be labelled with a warning about every conceivable potential hazard. It will be for the producer to assess the risks and hazards. Whether a warning should be given must depend on a variety of factors, including: l the severity of the hazard; l the risk of that hazard being realised; l the degree to which the risk is obvious; l the type of consumer likely to be at particularly risk. The considerations set out under ”Minimum risk compatible with the product’s use” below also apply to an assessment of the labelling needs.


7. In the absence of any guidance in the Directive as to what constitutes an antique, the Department is not able to include a definition of an antique in the Regulations. However, as a working assumption an antique may be taken to be a product which is more than 100 years old, or which is of a type that has long gone out of circulation, is recognised as a collectible item and as such is unlikely (although there are some exceptions such as furniture) to be used by a consumer for its original purpose. If there is any doubt about whether or not the product is an antique then it must be safe, as defined in the Regulations. Products for Repair or


8. It should be noted that it is not sufficient for a trader to make or display a general statement that goods are supplied for repair or reconditioning. Purchasers should be clearly informed of this fact in each case unless, for example, the goods on sale are in a separate area of the sales premises or trading area and the status of the goods is made clear in a general notice of such prominence and proportions that prospective purchasers cannot overlook it.

Minimum risk compatible with the product’s use which is consistent with a high level of protection for consumers

9. It must be recognised that it is not always possible to eliminate all risk from products. Certain products, by the very nature of their intended purpose, carry an inherent safety risk and consumers must accept that they have a responsibility to exercise due care in using such products. Examples are knives and scissors, which must have sharp edges to perform their function but where reasonable precautions can be taken to ensure that handles are sturdy and hands are kept away from the functional edges when such items are in use. In other cases, it could be argued that consumers should be aware of the potential risks of misuse through general knowledge, education and experience. Thus, a balanced view must be taken based on the nature of the product and the acceptability of the risk to consumers based on the characteristics of the product and its use. The range of potential hazards which may need to be drawn to consumers’ attention will depend on a number of factors (referred to in the section above on ”Labelling”).

CE markings

10. The Directive (and hence the Regulations) imposes no CE marking requirement. CE marking a product which does not require this is likely to constitute an offence under section 1 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.


11. “Professional” in these Regulations is considered to refer: l to a person carrying on a commercial activity; or l the knowledge and expertise which a distributor could reasonably be expected to have available to him, either alone or with others, having regard to the nature of business activity and to other relevant factors (e.g. whether he is required to have specialist education, knowledge or training in order to enter that business).

Risk (defined in ISO/IEC Guide 51)

12. Risk – the probable rate of occurrence of a hazard causing harm and the degree of severity of the harm. (Hazard is defined as a potential source of harm).

Serious Risk

13. Serious risk means any serious risk, including those the effects of which are not immediate, requiring rapid intervention by the public authorities. The Commission has produced a methodology for determining the severity of a risk and this is attached to its non-binding Guidance on Notifications. We are aware though that there are also a number of risk analysis models in normal use such as the Nomograph and others. Neither the Directive nor these Regulations prescribe the use of any one particular model; however it is possible that there may be further work in the future on developing a consistent approach at the Community level.

Normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use including duration

14. Normal conditions of use can be taken to be the general usage intended by the producer without him placing unreasonable restrictions on such use by consumers.

15. Reasonably foreseeable use should, it is considered, where appropriate, take account of the intended and potential types of user (i.e. the elderly, the unpredictable behaviour of children) and how a reasonable person might use a product in the absence of any indications to the contrary.

16. Duration means the normally expected or actual life of the product, whichever is longer.