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New body outlines plans to strengthen UK product safety regime

The recently-launched UK body charged with overseeing product safety has unveiled plans to strengthen the regulatory regime for product safety and standards, including proposals to set up a national incident management team capable of coordinating large scale product recall and repair programmes.15 Aug 2018

The Office for Product Safety and Standards’ (OPSS) first strategic plan (31 page / 738KB PDF) outlines how it will function in the next two years. The OPSS said it would strengthen analysis to support effective decision making and would make the best use of scientific evidence, risk and intelligence. It aims to better-inform consumers and businesses about product safety, to make sure businesses can comply with the law.

As the product safety regulator, the OPSS said it was aiming to deliver “responsive, effective and targeted enforcement” to maintain protection, fairness and confidence. It added that it would build a “robust” product safety system infrastructure to support innovation.

Health and safety expert Sarah Taylor of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "The OPSS strategy can be seen as a move to bolster the UK’s infrastructure around product safety ahead of Brexit. The plans point to a strengthening of national arrangements to coordinate and communicate product recalls. Whilst the law in this area remains the same for manufacturers, importers and retailers, local trading standards departments can be expected to welcome this additional resource and focus."

In addition to the plans to establish an incident management team, the OPSS will increase support for local authority enforcement teams at ports, borders and points of entry to ensure the safety of goods that are entering the UK. It will also develop tools to help local authorities in improving risk assessments in order to identify mistakes before they happen.

It said it would work closely with manufacturers to ensure they are compliant with safety regulations from an earlier stage of the production process.

Meanwhile consumers will benefit from a new website that will have information and advice about recalled products.

The publication of the strategic plan follows the launch of the OPSS in January this year. The body was set up in response to recommendations made by a Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety.

The OPSS also published a report outlining its actions to date, which include developing the first code of practice for product safety recall, strengthening border checks on product safety ahead of Brexit, and reviewing compliance systems at white goods manufacturers.