Industry welcomes code of practice for safety recalls

The Government has launched a new code of practice to improve product safety recalls.

The new Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), which launched in January, has teamed up with BSI, the UK’s national standards body, to launch the first Government-backed Code of Practice – PAS 7100 – for product safety recalls in the UK.

The new code includes details on how businesses can monitor the safety of products and plan for a recall, and how market surveillance authorities, such as Trading Standards, can support businesses in monitoring incidents and implementing corrective action.

Phil Buckle, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, welcomed the development, describing it as “essential” for improving the effectiveness of product recalls.

“The success of the new guide in removing unsafe products from people’s homes depends on the willingness of businesses to adopt it,” he explained. “We’re keen to raise awareness of the new guide and to help educate businesses in using it.
We know from our own research that only 10 to 20 per cent of recalled products are typically returned or repaired. This is largely because consumers are unaware that their product has been recalled. The new guide should help businesses to make the recall process as transparent as possible for their customers. Information about a recall should be easy to find, provide clear and concise information, and cause minimal inconvenience.

“While the new of Code of Practice is a positive step forward, sadly it is voluntary and there are currently no consequences for businesses who fail to recover dangerous faulty products from people’s homes.”

Andrew Logan, head of regulatory at Gordons law firm, said: “The legal responsibilities for product safety sit with manufacturers, importers and retailers to ensure they only place safe products on the market and take fast and effective corrective action if a safety issue arises.

“The OPSS has been set up to help identify risks and manage responses from the relevant businesses, but it is still vitally important for manufacturers, importers and retailers to work with their legal teams to understand this new code of practice and develop the most effective recall plan in case a safety issue is identified.”

Phil Buckle, director general of Electrical Safety First
Phil Buckle

The code follows a recommendation from the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety to implement regulations to strengthen the UK’s already tough product safety regime.

It was also created with the assistance of leading retailers, consumer interest groups and industry bodies, including Tesco, Samsung, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers.

Consumer Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “This new Code of Practice will support businesses in dealing with product safety issues swiftly and effectively, ensuring people can continue to buy secure in the knowledge there is an effective system in place if products need to be repaired or replaced.

“Effective regulation is a key element of our industrial strategy, which is creating the conditions for businesses to succeed in the UK and to compete in the global economy.”

Scott Steedman, director of standards at BSI, commented: “Public interest in product safety is higher than it has ever been and while consumer products generally perform without problems, there are times when products can become faulty and require a repair or recall. The Code of Practice was created to ensure that corrective action by manufacturers is taken in a safe and systematic way. The launch of this guidance is an important step in ensuring even higher levels of product safety in the future.”

The Code is split into two parts, with the first part focusing on non-food consumer products, which is intended for use by manufacturers, importers and distributors.

The second is aimed at regulators, specifically market surveillance authorities, and details how they can carry out their role in ensuring businesses meet their responsibilities in respect of consumer product safety issues.

Amdea chief executive Douglas Herbison commented: “We believe that PAS 7100 will be particularly useful for small businesses needing assistance with designing a product safety incident plan, and that it will help Local Trading Standards to offer a consistent approach to dealing with corrective actions when they arise.”

  • Picture supplied by London Fire Brigade