Product Safety Consultation

Last week, the Department for Business and Trade launched a product safety consultation, in a bid to reform the current regulatory framework for product safety. The consultation, open until 24th October, is being announced as part of the Government’s Smarter Regulation Programme.

This news came shortly after the announcement that the UKCA marking deadline was to be extended by a further two years

While we commend a review into the current framework around standards, we would question whether it is possible to make such reforms, when resources such as Trading Standards and Third-Party Test Houses are already overstretched. Derogation and e-labelling reforms are all well and good, so long as there are robust policies and organisations in place to ensure these are not exploited. Take for example the problems of cyber security we all encounter day by day with spurious websites and hacking, let alone the lies told as supposed facts.

Dodgy products are a scourge to our collective safety, and we would like greater scrutiny of any product coming in from offshore, not less. In all honesty we must expect unscrupulous manufacturers and importers to take every advantage, and to exploit every vulnerability and loop- hole they can. Being offshore is a great way to hide things, especially if an e-certificate says it is compliant. The earlier point about cyber security should ring alarm bells.

Back to the marking of products. It would be ideal if all territories could come on board with this proposal within a unified framework agreement. The proposal does not mention the problems of products carrying multiple territory compliance markings and how to accommodate different languages.

The consultation document includes several questions, and it urges us to respond to these via the online survey. This is not something you can do during a quick break. It is a big survey to do correctly, and the submission of proof will put many people off. Rather than kick the issues of deadlines down the road and tie business up in consultations they don’t have time to deal with, might we offer two suggestions for HM Gov to think about.

  • Get to grips with UKCA and get on with it or bin it within the term of this parliament because the UK needs to know one way or the other and not watch the can being kicked down the road to land in someone else’s back yard to deal with.
  • Level the playing field for UK businesses who are making good products by getting tough on those who evade their compliance responsibility.

These suggestions will clarify the situation post Brexit and give the UK a robust mechanism to deter products coming onto the market that have no right to be there.

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