Health and safety legislation has proliferated in the past five years, placing more demands on all industries supplying consumer products.
The General Product Safety Directive defines a “Safe” product as one that “under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use including duration does not present any risk or only the minimum risks compatible with the product's use”. It requires that, in the absence of any specific legislation, items should still be classified as “safe” in this respect.
However, the level of specific legislation has grown significantly, particularly since the development of the REACH Directive and it is the responsibility of all those in the supply chain to ensure their products comply.
Substances restricted by REACH, and similar legislation in America and Canada include nickel, lead, cadmium, azo dyes, chromium VI, phtalates and formaledehyde. This legislation is widening its scope continually. For more information visit the REACH section. Toys and other items intended for use by children wil also be subject to additional restrictions. The Toy Safety Regulation controls 19 different chemicals as well as imposing physical requirements and other criteria such as resistance to flammability.
In order to ensure compliance with the ever-increasing raft of legislative requirements, suppliers should have a “due diligence “ programme in place. This will include risk assessments, clear product specifications to ensure products are safe and compliant with specific legislation and evidence of product testing. Overall the programme needs to demonstrate that the supplier took “all reasonable steps” to ensure their product was safe. The interpretation of this principle will depend upon the size of the company and the level of risk the product presents. Suppliers are recommended to consult their local Trading Standards Authority for specific advice.
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