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General Product and Safety Regulations

Assessing the Safety of Products

Specific Product Regulations

4.1 Where specific product legislation covers exactly the same ground as the GPS Regulations the specific legislation will apply.

4.2 Where the specific legislation deals only with certain aspects of safety, only those aspects of safety that fall outside the scope of the specific legislation but within the scope of the GPS Regulations will be subject to the GPS Regulations.

4.3 Where there is no relevant specific product legislation, safety will be assessed by one or other of the methods in the GPS Regulations set out in paragraphs 4.5 to 4.7 below.

National Regulations

4.4 Since the coverage is wide, some products will be subject to national safety regulations made under s11 of the CPA (e.g. The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988) as well as these Regulations. In the absence of Community provisions governing the safety of the product in question, the product will be deemed safe if it conforms to the specific rules of national law so long as those rules cover the specific risk under consideration. In cases where specific national safety regulations apply only to new products the General Product Safety Regulations will apply when those products are supplied second-hand.

Voluntary European Standards

4.5 The Regulations introduce for the first time a presumption of conformity with the general safety requirement if a product conforms with the UK transposition of a voluntary European standard that has had its references published in the Official Journal of the European Union, but only as far as the risks are covered by that standard. A list of the standards so far published in the Official Journal may be found on the European Commission’s website4.

4.6 Where neither a specific Regulation nor national safety law applies, safety will be assessed taking each of the following into account in turn: l voluntary European standards; l Community technical specifications; l national standards (i.e. British standards which are not UK versions of European standards); l industry codes of good practice; and l state of the art and technology, and the safety which consumers may reasonable expect.

4.7 It should be noted that compliance with one or more of the above will not necessarily mean that the product is a safe product if it does not provide an acceptable level of safety. There will be instances where, for example, a European standard exists for the product in question but does not deal with a particular aspect of safety or does so inadequately. In such cases other provisions in the list, if applicable, may be used – e.g. aspects of a national standard or reference to the state of the art and technology. In the case of Balding v Lew Ways Ltd the court found that a “Tipper Trike” toy conformed with EN71 but it was still found to be unsafe for the purposes of the Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995.

Standards of the International Standards Organisations

4.8 Standards published by the ISO (International Standards Organisation) and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) are given no special status in the Regulations in assessing the safety of products unless they are embodied as European or national standards. However, they should be taken as falling within the general provisions in the last 3 bulleted points in paragraph 4.6.


4.9 Conformity with the criteria designed to ensure product safety (e.g. national legislation, standards referenced in the Official Journal of the European Union etc) will not bar the enforcement authorities from taking appropriate measures where there is evidence that despite such conformity the product is dangerous.