If a product does not comply with product safety requirements and its sales are restricted, the responsibility falls on the company that has placed the product on the market. But what causes safety-related problems? And what needs to be taken into account so that problems can be avoided?
The law states clearly that electrical devices must be safe when they are correctly installed and correctly used and maintained. The Low Voltage Directive (LVD) ensures that all electrical devices on the markets are safe for people, property and pets. If a product does not meet safety requirements and market surveillance intervenes, sales and marketing of the product may be restricted or its sales may be banned entirely. In addition, the responsible party may be required to recall all of the devices already sold to consumers, which further increases the costs resulting from deficiencies in product safety.
The restriction or banning of sales is naturally a huge blow to the companies wishing to sell the product. Responsibility lies with the party that places the electrical device on the market, i.e. the party that first made the product available on the EU markets.
For example, this party could be a company that orders the design of a product from another company and then supplies the products it has had manufactured to its own customers. If the product originates outside the EU, the party placing the product on the market is the first to import the product onto the EU markets. Responsibility lies with this company also if the company has sold the product to another importer within the EU.
What are the causes of product safety deficiencies?
The most common hazards caused by electrical devices are electric shocks, fires and mechanical hazards. Other common hazards are, for example, high contact temperatures and chemical hazards. Information on hazards is readily available and product recalls are a common occurrence in the media. Why is it then that product safety problems are so frequent?
Oftentimes, the problem is a lack of awareness of product safety requirements. Sometimes the cause can also be pure carelessness: a party may be aware of requirements but does not care about them. Instead they begin to wittingly sell a product at a risk. It is also possible that the product’s developer or importer is not able to ensure whether the product meets the requirements. In all of the cases mentioned above, we can point a finger at both the product developer and the importer. Below is a review of the steps that each party needs to take in order to ensure product safety.
Achieving better product safety
In product development companies, the product manager should, for a start, think about the following questions: Do we know what safety risks are associated with our product? Do we know the precise product safety requirements for this product? It is vital to ensure that the product safety requirements are taken into account from the very start of the product development process. If this is not done and the defects are noticed too late, it may be necessary for the device to be redesigned. This leads to added costs and can prolong the launch of the product for sale.
If the client outsources the product design to an R&D partner and it turns out that the described product safety problems occur time and time again, it will become unlikely that the cooperation between the client and R&D partner will continue. It is important for the party putting the product on the market to bear in mind that if product safety requirements are not met and market surveillance steps in, the products banned from sale will remain unsold. Additional costs will also result from the collection of the products from marketplaces and end-users.
The rule of thumb for importers placing products on the EU market is to ensure that the product ordered from outside the EU is not deficient in terms of safety. If the product is imported from outside the EU, request a sample from the manufacturer and have it tested. When you have ensured the product’s compliance, you can order a larger shipment without having to fear that its sales will be restricted.