Product safety law
Your legal responsibilities for product safety
There are a number of laws that cover the safety of products.
General Product Safety Regulations
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR) impose controls to ensure the safety of consumer goods. The rules make sure that all products intended for or likely to be used by consumers under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions are safe.
The GPSR apply to any producers of consumer goods, this includes:
Under these rules, you will have certain duties including traceability and monitoring. To show you comply with the law, you should:
- minimise the risks associated with the product
- keep records of technical documentation
- place suitable labelling on the product
- provide instructions on how to use it safely
Consumer Rights Act
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, all products must be "fit for purpose", be of satisfactory quality and fit its description. This means that your products must fulfil the purpose the customer has been led to expect and the reasons that led them to buy it.
The Act also covers any purpose that a customer asks about when the product is purchased and is guaranteed by the retailer to meet that purpose when it is sold. If a product is not fit for purpose, the customer is within their rights to have the goods replaced or repaired.
By definition, good design will lead to safe design. While meeting your duties is the minimum required, it is a good idea to take best practice on board throughout the design, production, supply and disposal stages.
Other product safety legislation
There are also products covered by specific safety regulations.
You must consider packaging safety rules when packaging your products.
As a manufacturer or supplier, you could be held liable in any legal action for harm caused to consumers or businesses as a result of unintended side-effects or the failure of products manufactured or supplied by you. Read more about product liability and taking out insurance.
Certain products traded in Europe require CE marking.
When something goes wrong
If you find that a product you have placed on the market may be unsafe, you must take action. This may include carrying out product recalls.
Retailers must not sell unsafe products. If you find out a product you have sold has safety risks, you must report this to the supplier. For this reason, you should keep records of your suppliers so the origins of the products you sell can be traced.