The three tips given below will help you ensure that the electrical device placed on the markets by your company complies with product safety requirements.
1. Identify the requirements
The first key step towards product safety is to identify which standard contains the requirements for a specific product. Often, this is easier said than done. The highest product safety requirement level is the Low Voltage Directive (LVD), according to which electrical devices must be safe for people, property and pets.
The European Commission’s website Harmonised Standards contains a wide variety of product safety requirements and standards, depending on the product group. The significant variety of standards can prove to be challenging for operators who wish to import a product onto the EU markets.
The development of standards is a time-consuming process and new types of products continue to pop up on the markets at an accelerating rate. Sometimes the device to be assessed can be of an entirely new type, one that none of the existing standards applies to directly. In that case, it is important to be able to identify, from among hundreds of options, the precise standard that best applies to the product in question.
2. Identify the risks and responsibilities
Electrical devices must be safe when they are correctly installed and correctly used and maintained. The most common hazards linked to electrical devices are electric shocks, fire and mechanical hazards. Other hazards are, for example, high contact temperatures and chemical hazards.
Start to identify risks by considering the following questions, for instance: What is the product used for? What is the product’s user like? What about the use environment? Is the product safe for the user as well as any maintenance personnel?
It is important to remember that if hazards related to product safety deficiencies occur, responsibility is always borne by the party placing the product on the market. In the EU, the party that places the electrical device on the market is defined as the party that first made the product available on the EU markets.
3. Utilize the expertise of an external partner
The maze of regulations and standards for R&D and import companies can feel overwhelming. Few parties placing products on the market have at their disposal an expert that is able to identify all of the requirements and, in light of them, provide an overall assessment of the product.
Due to a lack of expertise, many importers import goods at a risk, perhaps relying on suppliers outside the EU and their assurances of the product’s declarations of conformity. If market surveillance finds deficiencies in product safety and sets limits for sales of the product, the importer’s business suffers.
Deficiencies detected in product safety often have their roots on the designer’s desk: R&D has failed to identify to a sufficient degree the product safety requirements and standards that should be applied when designing the product.
If the importer’s buyer or the R&D company’s designer are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the requirements, there is no need to panic. An external product safety expert can be called in who can focus on the right aspects and approach the issue from a holistic product safety perspective.
When the requirements are identified right from the start and the information is relayed all the way to R&D, both product development risks and risks related to the sale of the product are reduced. The partner’s expertise allows product development to remain on schedule and on a budget when the product does not have to be redesigned due to discovered deficiencies.
In addition, the product conformity means that the party placing the product on the markets and other parties no longer have to worry about damage to their reputation or financial losses resulting from unsold devices.