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General Product and Safety Regulations

Introduction

1.1 The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (“the Regulations”) come into force on 1 October 2005 and replace the General Product Safety Regulations 1994. The Regulations are made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 and transpose Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety into UK law.

1.2 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.
 

1.3 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. Responsibility

1.4 The Department of Trade and Industry has overall policy responsibility for the General Product Safety Regulations, but responsibility for the safety of some consumer products rests with other Departments. For example, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency have the lead on medical devices and licensed medicines for human use, while the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) leads on motor vehicles safety. For some products covered by specific product Regulations (e.g. machinery) the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) lead.

1.5 It is recognised that most businesses in the UK are responsible and comply with the law, and that generally speaking product safety levels in this country are high. When safety problems are identified UK businesses are usually very quick to voluntarily remove risks to the consumer. Nothing in the Regulations prevents that; indeed voluntary action is specifically encouraged as an alternative to formal enforcement. Nevertheless the Regulations provide powers to the enforcement authorities to take appropriate action against those businesses that fail to fulfil their responsibilities and, as a last resort, enable enforcement authorities to order the recall of dangerous products.