Product safety

Much of the legislation regarding (consumer) products focuses on specific product groups, such as electrical products, cosmetics or toys, for example. However, it is not possible to draw up legal requirements for every product. Equally, it not possible to inspect every new product that comes onto the market.

The General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EEC) makes no specific, essential requirements, but employs the principle of the general safety requirement. Thereby, the directive becomes a safety net, which includes all consumer products to which no specific legislation/directive applies.

The general safety requirement entails that the producer concerned must be able to show which standards system his product complies with, and why that is sufficient to make it a safe product. This must also be testable by third parties. That is to say that the sources on which it draws must be checkable and must have as broad a basis of social support as possible.

Producers (Manufacturers, importers) and distributors themselves are responsible for putting safe products on the market. They must evaluate (risk assessment) and monitor (random sampling) whether their products comply with the legal requirements. Companies are obliged to report any dangerous products that have been put on the market and for which measures must be taken (e.g. a recall action).

Producer

You are regarded as a manufacturer within the meaning of the law if, in the EU, you are a representative of a brand or the importer of the product into the European Union. This means that you are supplied with products from countries outside the EU. You are also deemed to be a producer within the meaning of the law if you outsource the manufacture of a product but sell it under your own private label.

Distributor

You are a distributor if you are only involved in the merchandising of the product and thus have no influence on the safety features of a product (importer, retailer or wholesaler).

Obligations of producers and distributors

Producers must put products on the market which meet the general safety requirement. Furthermore, they must:

  • provide the consumer with the relevant information which enables him/her to form a judgement as regards the risks associated with a product if these are not immediately recognisable
  • take suitable measures to prevent problems (e.g.: take the product concerned off the market, warn consumers or recall all the products supplied to consumers, and so on).

Distributors are likewise obliged:

  • to supply products that meet the general safety requirement
  • to participate in the monitoring of the safety of the products that have been put on the market
  • provide the necessary documentation to enable the origin of products to be traced.

When producers or distributors establish that a product is dangerous, they inform the competent authorities about this and, if necessary, they collaborate with them.

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