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General Product and Safety Regulations

SCOPE

Product Coverage

2.1 The Regulations apply to the supply of all new and second-hand products, excluding products supplied for repair or reconditioning prior to being used (provided the supplier clearly informs the person to whom he supplies the product to that effect), and excluding the sale of antiques.

2.2 “Products” within the meaning of the Regulations can best be described as all goods that are (or could be) placed on the market, or supplied or made available (including in the course of providing a service) to consumers for their private use. Products covered include, but are not restricted to, clothing, medicines, machinery, tools and equipment, fireworks supplied to consumers, household goods, nursery goods, gym equipment, chemicals and pesticides, and motor vehicles.

Borderlines

2.3 Where a product is already subject to other existing Regulations (e.g. toys) then those Regulations will still apply to that product. The GPS Regulations will also apply where they go further than the existing Regulations in terms of the specific aspects of safety covered, the extent of the obligations on producers and distributors, and the powers available to enforcement officers. As an example, the Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995 do not (among other things) require producers or distributors to notify the enforcement authorities of problems associated with their products and the steps they have taken to remove the risk to consumers. Neither do they give the enforcement authorities the powers to order mandatory recall of the product from consumers. The GPS Regulations will therefore apply to toys in these areas. Similar considerations apply in respect of all other products covered by specific legislation made under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1987.

2.4 To clarify some of these “borderline” issues the Commission has published guidance on its website1 on the relationship between the General Product Safety Directive, which these Regulations implement, and certain product specific legislation at the Community level that our other, product specific, Regulations implement.

2.5 Where specific product legislation deals only with the safety of new products, these Regulations will apply to those products when supplied second-hand.

Migration

2.6 The Regulations also cover products that were originally designed and intended for professional use but which subsequently “migrate” on to the consumer market (e.g. certain power tools). In most cases aspects of the safety of professional products will be the subject of specific product legislation such as the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 (as amended). Consequently, where professional products become available to consumers the GPS Regulations will extend to those aspects of safety and measures not covered by such specific legislation. Migration does not necessarily mean that the product is unsafe to a consumer, but where it is reasonably foreseeable that a professional product may find its way onto the consumer market (intended or not) suitable instructions for consumer use and warnings of any risks that are not obvious must be provided. However, where it is unlikely that the product could ever be safe for use by consumers, producers/distributors should take such steps as are reasonable and necessary to ensure the marketing and supply of the product is very strictly controlled. Labelling a product “for professional use only” (or similar) is unlikely on its own to be sufficient.

Meaning of Supply/Make Available/Place on the Market

2.7 These terms are used variously throughout the Regulations. The European Commission’s guidance on New Approach Directives says that “placing on the market” means making a product available for the first time when it is transferred from the manufacturer to be distributed. Further, that this applies to each individual product and not to a type of product2. Hence placing on the market generally refers to what producers do, while distributors supply products. The definition of “supply” in the Regulations extends to hire and making a product available for use by consumers in the course of providing a service.

2.8 Placing a product on the market, making it available or supplying can happen in many ways, for example: l Selling, leasing, hiring it out or lending it; l Entering into a hire purchase or other credit agreement for it; l Exchanging it for any consideration other than money; l Giving it as a prize or otherwise making a gift; and l Providing it in the course of the delivery of a service.

2.9 The extension of these Regulations to products made available to consumers in the course of the delivery of a service is a new departure. An example of such a supply would be the provision in a hotel room of a hairdryer for the guest’s own use. In contrast, a hairdryer in a salon is used by the hairdresser rather than the client and not covered by this provision.

2.10 The Regulations only apply to the commercial placing on the market or supply i.e. in the course of a business or trade. They apply irrespective of the marketing methods employed and include distance and electronic selling.

2.11 Each time a product is made available for use, loaned, hired or leased etc to a consumer this will be a separate supply.

2.12 The Regulations also extend to the preparatory acts of agreeing to place a product on the market and exposing or possessing any product for placing on the market.

2.13 Possessing an unsafe product that has been returned whether as part of a recall or otherwise, or the fact of having possession of a product for further assembly or re-working in order to make the product safe, would not constitute possession with the intent to supply.

2.14 Where a construction product is incorporated into a permanent structure (e.g. a concrete lintel) it is doubtful that the product remains a distinguishable product to which the Regulations can apply. However DIY products used in buildings, such as light fittings, switches, showers etc, which are intended for or may be used by consumers are covered by the Regulations.

Products used in the workplace

2.15 The Regulations do not apply to products used in the workplace by workers. Products that are used in the provision of a service, even if they are used for (but not by) consumers are also outside the scope of the Regulations. An example is a cleaning product used as part of a car valet service that is not supplied to the consumer. The safety of such products is controlled by the Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) using specific Health and Safety at Work legislation. “Products” that consumers ride or travel on and which are operated by a service provider are also excluded. In this instance “operation” has a wide definition and includes transport vehicles and devices such as escalators and lifts whether manned or not.

Products for Export


2.16 Also, the Regulations do not apply to:

  • Products which are not placed on the market or supplied in the UK or intended for placing on the market or intended for supply in the UK, e.g. those which are exported or are for export to a country outside the Community. An exception is where there is a Commission decision which imposes an export ban on them; or

  • Products used or intended only for display at exhibitions or trade fairs. However, such products are subject to the Regulations if they are subsequently placed on the market in the UK or made available for supply to consumers.