New product safety regime ‘to protect consumers and businesses’

group of hardware store workers discussing work

The government has outlined plans to improve product safety standards to protect consumers and businesses that try to play by the rules and put the customer first.

The project is being overseen by the newly established Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

The OPSS was established in January to enforce the UK’s safety laws.

The plan contains new measures such as:

  • a new national incident management team for product safety incidents capable of coordinating large scale product recall and repair programmes
  • establishing a new website to support consumers with reliable information and advice about recalled products
  • increased support for local authority enforcement teams at ports, borders and points of entry to ensure the safety of goods that are entering the UK
  • close working with manufacturers to ensure they are compliant with safety regulations from an earlier stage of the production process
  • developing tools and guidance to assist local authorities in improving risk assessments, identifying mistakes before they happen.

Consumer Minister Kelly Tolhurst said the measures will enable consumers to buy products with confidence, secure in the knowledge there is a robust and effective system in place to keep people safe and hold companies accountable.

She added: “It will also ensure that the vast majority of businesses that do the right thing and comply with the law are protected from the unfair competition presented by companies that bypass the rules and sell unsafe products.”

The delivery plan 2020, published alongside the strategy, also sets out a number of additional commitments for the OPSS including:

  • working with white goods manufacturers, gaining assurance that their compliance systems are robust and that they are implementing the Product Recalls Code of Practice
  • publishing a Strategic Research Programme, setting out priorities for scientific research into potential product safety risks
  • preparing the first national Strategic Assessment to prioritise product safety actions, based on scientific evidence
  • working with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and public health bodies to further improve injury data collection
  • working with the government’s Behavioural Insights Unit to understand how to most effectively reach consumers in product recall scenarios and with wider product safety messages
  • encouraging greater diversity in standards committee membership
  • supporting consumer awareness campaigns about specific hazards.

Since its formation in January, the OPSS has been working with regulatory bodies such as National Trading Standards, other government departments and manufacturers to upgrade the product safety system.

This has included publishing the world’s first Code of Practice for Product Safety Recall, which sets out how businesses should recall products, work with manufacturers and retailers to improve labelling and raise consumer awareness of the risks of laser pointers, and beginning work, ahead of EU exit, with Trading Standards at key border checkpoints to strengthen our ability to stop unsafe products at the border.

Useful links

Read the Strengthening national capacity for product safety: Strategy 2018-2020
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Office for Product Safety and Standards,