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.

Let’s create something great together



Are you aware of the UN38.8 Lithium battery certification?

We are all familiar with Lithium batteries and their increasingly popular application in electrical devices. For designers they are the go-to power supply and are used in their millions in a number of configurations. However, their use comes with a cautionary note, and this can be summarised in the old saying of “buyer beware”. These batteries have the potential to be a hazard. The battery must be safe and reliable for its intended use.

One of the questions you should ask of the vendor is, “does the battery meet the UN38.8 standard, set by the United Nations?”

Why is this question so important?

A UN38.8 certified lithium battery will have undergone a series of rigorous tests to show they withstand the physical and environmental hazards expected during intended use. It goes without saying that any product using a certified battery will not only be safer, but likely last longer too.

The responsibility to ensure that Lithium batteries meets standards falls upon the seller, but many buyers and sellers of electronic products across the globe are unaware that international regulatory bodies require this certification prior to shipping these goods. This opens up the possibility of uncertified batteries being offered for sale, usually at a bargain price.

There are 8 tests in the certification process, and each one must be passed in order to receive certification. This testing helps to provide an important safeguard for product developers, product sellers and lastly consumers. These tests are to ensure that a battery will not rupture, leak, disassemble or combust during transportation or during the products intended use.

The 8 tests are:

  1. Altitude simulation.
  2. Thermal testing.
  3. Vibration testing.
  4. Shock testing.
  5. External short circuit.
  6. Impact and crush.
  7. Overcharge.
  8. Forced discharge.

If a product is going to have a Lithium battery incorporated, then we would recommend only using batteries which have the appropriate UN38.8 certification. This will help to protect against using poor quality or faulty batteries which could ultimately provide customers with greater satisfaction and safety.



UKCA Marking – What you need to know

Britain’s exit from the European Union is affecting how people in the UK have to run their businesses. Some businesses have been greatly affected whilst others remain largely unchanged. Within the sphere of new product design there are some changes required, for now the new requirements are not far reaching and should be easy for most businesses to comply with. Part of these new requirements is UKCA marking.

The UKCA mark applies to most goods that previously required a CE mark. Currently technical requirements for the standards remain the same. For example, products are still subject to GPSR and, as before operate on the understanding that any product must be safe for intended use. If there is legislation specific to the type of product then this should take president. For example, both Toys and Electrical Equipment still have their own standard. These were previously referred to as “harmonised standards” from the EU but are now termed as “designated standards” and are published by the UK government.

UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021. However, to allow businesses time to adjust to the new requirements, businesses will still be able to use the CE marking until 1st January 2022 in most cases. At the start of 2022 the UKCA marking must be present at least as a label affixed to the product or an accompanying document. And then from 1st Jan 2023 UKCA marking must be permanently attached to the product.

This does not apply to existing stock, for example if your goods were fully manufactured, CE marked and ready to place on the market before 1 January 2021. In these cases, your goods can still be sold in Britain with a CE marking.

There are however some cases when businesses need to apply the new UKCA marking to goods being sold in Great Britain immediately from 1 January 2021. When asked for clarification on which goods have this requirement the government Goods Regulation Team advised the following:

“You will need to use the new UKCA marking immediately if all the following apply to your product:

• it is for the market in Great Britain
• it is covered by legislation which requires the UKCA marking
• it requires mandatory third-party conformity assessment
• if conformity assessment has been carried out by a UK conformity assessment body and you haven’t transferred your conformity assessment files from your UK body to an EU recognised body before 1 January 2021”

As well as the marking of products there are some changes to third party test house certification, record keeping and declarations of conformity.

Sated Design’s recommendation during this transition period is that it would be best to exercise an early awareness of CE and UKCA for your project. Consult a third-party test house who are established Notified Bodies in both the UK and EU, and who specialise in the particular area of standards, compliance and certification your project requires. This will help make sure the most efficient route to compliance is adhered to.