- Responsibilities of businesses
- The General Product Safety Regulations 2005
- Defining a safe product
- UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking
- Designated standards
- Record keeping and technical documentation
- UK Declaration of Conformity
- Onwards supply chain obligations
- Withdrawal and recall
- Toy and cosmetic legislative changes
- Further product safety guidance for businesses
- Business Companion
- Bespoke business advice from Trading Standards
The Office of Product Safety and Standards is the national regulator and policy holder when it comes to the safety of products aimed at the consumer market.
However, Trading Standards has statutory responsibilities in terms of product safety enforcement in their local area in relation to such consumer goods.
We are keen to help businesses get things right, as opposed to having to take enforcement action. To this end, we offer comprehensive advice and support to local businesses both through our chargeable business advice service and also our free advice signposting service.
The Health and Safety Executive has responsibility for products sold for commercial use.
Responsibilities of businesses
Businesses that produce (manufacture), import, distribute or sell consumer products in the UK are responsible for:
- Making sure the products are safe for consumers to use
- Following the legal requirements in relation to labelling
- Providing adequate warnings for safe use
- Only selling products if they can appropriately demonstrate their compliance with product safety regulations
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR) require all products to be safe in their normal or reasonably foreseeable usage. Enforcement authorities have powers to take appropriate action when this obligation is not met.
For some product sectors, there are also specific regulations setting out essential safety requirements. Where there is crossover with the GPSR, the product-specific legislation usually takes precedence.
Since 31 December 2020, product safety provisions are applied differently in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) compared to Northern Ireland. This continues to be the case while the Northern Ireland Protocol is in force. Consequently, there is separate guidance for businesses selling products in Northern Ireland.
Defining a safe product
A safe product is one that does not present any unnecessary risk to anyone when they use the product in a normal and reasonably foreseeable way.
In assessing the safety of products, businesses must take account of (among other things):
- The packaging, all accompanying instructions, and any other labelling
- The effect of the product on other products with which it may foreseeably be used
- The special needs of particular classes of person, especially children
UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking
The UKCA marking is the new product marking following the UK leaving the European Union. It is used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain. It covers most goods which previously required the European Union CE marking. It also applies to aerosol products that previously required the 'reverse epsilon' marking.
The UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021. Businesses are still permitted to use the CE marking until 31 December 2024 in most cases. This is to allow businesses time to adjust to the new requirements.
The technical requirements ('essential safety requirements') that businesses must meet, and the conformity assessment processes and standards that businesses can use to demonstrate conformity, are largely the same as they were for the CE marking.
Timeline to implement UKCA marking
- Present - you can use UKCA marking
- Until 31 December 2024 - you can use CE marking in most cases, whilst preparing to transition to UKCA marking. Exceptions are for medical devices, construction products, cableways, transportable pressure equipment, unmanned aircraft systems, rail products and marine equipment.
- After 31 December 2024 - you must use UKCA marking when placing most manufactured products on the Great Britain (GB) market
- Until 31 December 2027 - the Government intends to bring forward legislation allowing you to apply UKCA marking and importer details via a label or an accompanying document for most goods, exceptions being medical devices, construction products, cableways, transportable pressure equipment, unmanned aircraft systems, rail products and marine equipment. The Government also intends to bring forward legislation allowing goods which are from the European Union (and the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, where EU legislation is implemented in those countries) to have details via a label or an accompanying document until 31 December 2027.
- After 31 December 2027 - UKCA marking and importer details must be applied directly onto the product unless legislation allows otherwise.
Use of the UKCA marking in Northern Ireland
The UKCA marking alone cannot be used for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market.
Not all products need to bear UKCA marking
Not all products sold in Great Britain need to bear UKCA marking. Businesses must have a basic knowledge of the legal requirements. Businesses should:
- Know what products must bear the UKCA marking and the accompanying documents required
- Be able to identify products that are clearly not in compliance
Designated standards can help producers demonstrate their products, services or processes comply with Great British law.
By following designated standards, producers can claim 'presumption of conformity' (which will need to be countered by evidence) with the corresponding essential safety requirements.
The Government has published a list of standards that producers can use to show their products, services or processes comply with essential safety requirements of legislation.
The circumstances in which producers can use self-declaration of conformity for UKCA marking are currently the same as for CE marking.
- Guidance on using the UKCA marking on the GOV.UK website
- Guidance on the UKCA Conformity Assessment on the GOV.UK website - information for businesses on the regulatory framework and transitional arrangements during 2021 and 2022
- Product areas covered by the UKCA marking on the GOV.UK website
- Guidance on UKCA marking roles and responsibilities on the GOV.UK website
Record keeping and technical documentation
Producers or the authorised representative (where allowed for in the relevant legislation) must keep documentation to demonstrate that the product conforms with the regulatory requirements. Producers / authorised representatives must generally keep the documentation for 10 years after placing the product on the market.
The information to keep varies depending on the specific legislation relevant to the product. The information should be kept in the form of a technical file which can be supplied if requested by a market surveillance authority.
General records should include:
- How the product is designed and manufactured
- How the product has been shown to conform to the relevant requirements
- The address of the manufacturer and any storage facilities
UK Declaration of Conformity
The UK Declaration of Conformity is a document which the manufacturer must draw up for most products lawfully bearing a UKCA marking before they are placed on the market.
If the product is not being imported, the manufacturer or authorised representative takes responsibility for holding a copy of the UK Declaration of Conformity.
For imported products, the importer must also hold a copy of the UK Declaration of Conformity.
The UK Declaration of Conformity should be available to enforcement authorities upon request.
The information required on the UK Declaration of Conformity is largely the same as what was required on an EU Declaration of Conformity. This can vary depending on the applicable legislation but should generally include:
- Product, type, batch or serial number
- Name and address of manufacturer / manufacturer's authorised representative
- Identification / description of actual product
- A statement that the product conforms with the relevant legislation
- Where applicable, references to any designated standards
- Where applicable, reference to the approved body that carried out any conformity assessment activity (name, number and description of activity)
- Signature of manufacturer (or authorised representative, where there is one)
Producers must also allow for traceability by indicating on the product or its packaging:
- The name and address of the producer
- The product reference or, where applicable, the batch of products to which it belongs
Onwards supply chain obligations
To enable a producer to become aware of risks the product might present, they should:
- Sample and test marketed products
- Investigate and, if necessary, keep a register of complaints concerning the safety of the product
- Keep distributors informed of the results of such monitoring where a product presents a risk or may present a risk
To assist businesses bringing safe consumer products to market, the British Standards Institute has published PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 7050: 2022 Bringing Safe Products to the Market.
The PAS aims to give recommendations for the management of internal systems and supply chains in the delivery of safe product to consumers.
Withdrawal and recall
If a business discovers that a product placed on the market poses a risk to consumers and is unsafe, it is a requirement to immediately notify Trading Standards of:
- That information
- The action to prevent risk to the consumer
- The identity of each business it has been supplied to
Visit the British Standards Institute website for PAS 7100: 2020 Supporting Better Recalls. Their Code of Practice assists businesses with effective withdrawal and recall procedures and other corrective actions that may be needed.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) published Product Safety and Non-Compliance Notification Guidance on the GOV.UK website. The guidance summarises the requirements to notify relevant authorities if products pose a risk to the health and safety of consumers, and / or are found to be non-compliant with the relevant legislation.
Visit the GOV.UK website for information on product recalls and alerts. There is information on:
- OPSS product safety alerts
- Recalls for unsafe products
- Resources for consumers, businesses and regulators
Toy and cosmetic legislative changes
The Government intends to update the technical annexes to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on:
- Cosmetic Products, as amended by the Product Safety and Metrology etc (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
- Schedule 2 to the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011
These changes entail either a reduction in the permitted level or prohibition of specific chemicals in cosmetics and toys.
Visit the GOV.UK website for planned updates to toy and cosmetic laws. You can also see the products affected and a timeline for compliance.
Further product safety guidance for businesses
View guidance on using button and coin batteries on the GOV.UK website. It's for businesses who manufacture, import, distribute or sell any products that use button (non-lithium) or coin (lithium) batteries.
Business Companion is a national Trading Standards website. It provides information about Trading Standards and consumer protection legislation.
Their product safety quick guides cover a wide range of topics:
- New and second-hand prams and pushchairs
- New nightwear
- New upholstered furniture
- Cosmetic products
- Electrical equipment
- Food imitations
- Jewellery safety: metal content
- Mini motors off road vehicles etc
- Novelty, decorative and ornamental giftware
- Electrically assisted pedal cycles
- Construction products
- Leather goods
- Recreational craft (boats etc)
- Candles diffusers oil heaters etc
- Second hand part worn tyres
- Second hand electrical goods
- Second hand cooking appliances
- Second hand upholstered furniture
- Used car sales
The Government appointed the National Accreditation Body for the UK. It assesses and accredits organisations that provide services, including certification, testing, inspection and calibration.
Bespoke business advice from Trading Standards
For details of our business advice services, through which you can access bespoke advice on product safety in the context of your business, please visit our business advice page.