General Product Safety Regulations 2024: An Overview

The General Product Safety Regulations (GPSR) 2024 are set to introduce significant changes to product safety standards within the UK and EU markets. As these regulations come into force, it is essential for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to understand their obligations and ensure compliance to avoid penalties and ensure consumer safety.

What You Need to Know

The GPSR 2024 aim to enhance consumer protection by ensuring that all products placed on the market are safe for use. The regulations apply to a wide range of products and introduce new requirements for manufacturers, importers, and distributors. Key points include:

  • Comprehensive safety standards applicable to a broader range of products.
  • Increased accountability for manufacturers and other economic operators in the supply chain.
  • Enhanced market surveillance and stricter enforcement measures.
  • Requirements for traceability and clear product information.

Differences Between GPSD and GPSR

The transition from the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) to the General Product Safety Regulations (GPSR) introduces several key changes and enhancements.

Scope and Coverage

  • GPSD: Primarily focused on general consumer products, with specific directives for certain categories.
  • GPSR: Expands the scope to cover a broader range of products, including those not previously specified under GPSD, and incorporates sustainability considerations.

Market Surveillance

  • GPSD: Relied on member states to conduct market surveillance with varying levels of effectiveness.
  • GPSR: Establishes a more robust and uniform framework for market surveillance across the UK and EU, with increased resources and authority for enforcement agencies.

Accountability and Traceability

  • GPSD: Basic requirements for product traceability and accountability.
  • GPSR: Implements stringent requirements for traceability, including the introduction of a digital product passport and mandatory record-keeping for economic operators.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

  • GPSD: Penalties and enforcement measures varied significantly between member states.
  • GPSR: Introduces standardized, stricter penalties for non-compliance, including higher fines and potential criminal charges for severe breaches.

Product Recalls and Reporting

  • GPSD: Provided guidelines for product recalls but with less emphasis on a structured process.
  • GPSR: Establishes a comprehensive framework for product recalls and mandatory reporting of safety issues, including detailed procedures and timelines for notifying authorities and consumers.

Obligations of Manufacturers

Manufacturers bear the primary responsibility for ensuring their products comply with the GPSR 2024. Key obligations include:

  • Product Design and Production: Ensure that products are designed and manufactured to meet the required safety standards.
  • Risk Assessment: Conduct thorough risk assessments to identify potential hazards associated with the product.
  • Documentation: Maintain detailed technical documentation and a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) to demonstrate compliance.
  • Product Testing: Carry out necessary testing to verify that products meet safety requirements.
  • Traceability: Implement systems to ensure traceability of products throughout the supply chain.
  • Reporting: Notify authorities of any safety issues and take corrective actions if necessary.
  • Labelling: Provide clear and accurate information on the product, including instructions for use, warnings, and manufacturer details.

Latest Developments

  • Digital Product Passport: Introduction of a digital product passport to enhance traceability and provide detailed product information to consumers and authorities.
  • Increased Fines: Stricter penalties for non-compliance, including higher fines and potential criminal charges for serious breaches.
  • Market Surveillance: Enhanced market surveillance measures to identify and address non-compliant products more effectively.
  • Sustainability Considerations: Inclusion of sustainability factors in product safety assessments, encouraging eco-friendly designs and materials.

What Manufacturers Need to Do

To comply with the GPSR 2024, manufacturers should:

  • Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment for each product.
  • Ensure products are designed and manufactured according to the latest safety standards.
  • Maintain up-to-date technical documentation and a Declaration of Conformity.
  • Implement robust testing procedures to verify product safety.
  • Ensure full traceability of products through the supply chain.
  • Provide clear labelling and product information.
  • Stay informed about regulatory updates and changes.

Examples of Included Products

The GPSR 2024 cover a wide range of products, including but not limited to:

  • Consumer Electronics: Smartphones, laptops, and other personal electronic devices.
  • Toys and Children’s Products: Toys, baby equipment, and childcare products.
  • Household Appliances: Kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, and other home devices.
  • Furniture: Home and office furniture, including items like chairs and tables.
  • Personal Care Products: Hairdryers, electric shavers, and other grooming products.

Examples of Excluded Products

Certain products are not covered under the GPSR 2024, such as:

  • Medicinal Products: Medicines and medical devices regulated under specific health regulations.
  • Food Products: Items intended for human consumption covered under food safety regulations.
  • Automobiles: Motor vehicles and their components, regulated by specific automotive safety standards.
  • Construction Products: Building materials regulated under construction product regulations.
  • Second-hand Products: Items sold as antiques or second-hand goods that do not undergo refurbishment for safety compliance.

Product Recalls and Reporting

The GPSR 2024 establish a more structured approach to product recalls and mandatory reporting of safety issues. Key points include:

  • Mandatory Reporting: Manufacturers, importers, and distributors must report any product safety issues to the relevant authorities without delay. This includes any incident that could result in a serious risk to consumer health and safety.
  • Recall Procedures: Clear procedures for initiating product recalls, including communication strategies to inform consumers about the risks and steps to take.
  • Corrective Actions: Requirement to take immediate corrective actions to mitigate risks, which could include product recalls, repairs, or providing replacement products.
  • Consumer Notifications: Obligation to provide clear and accessible information to consumers about the nature of the safety issue, the risks involved, and the actions being taken to address it.

Definitions and Roles

Manufacturer

A manufacturer is any natural or legal person who designs, manufactures, or has products manufactured and markets those products under their name or trademark. GPSR responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring product compliance with safety regulations.
  • Conducting risk assessments and maintaining technical documentation.
  • Placing their name and address on the product for traceability.
  • Reporting any safety issues and initiating recalls if necessary.

Importer

An importer is any natural or legal person established within the UK or EU who places a product from a third country on the market. GPSR responsibilities include:

  • Verifying that the manufacturer has complied with safety requirements.
  • Ensuring that the product has the required documentation and labeling.
  • Keeping a copy of the Declaration of Conformity and ensuring that technical documentation can be made available to authorities upon request.
  • Reporting any safety issues and cooperating in recall procedures.

Distributor

A distributor is any natural or legal person in the supply chain, other than the manufacturer or the importer, who makes a product available on the market. GPSR responsibilities include:

  • Acting with due care to ensure that the product complies with safety requirements.
  • Verifying that products have the necessary documentation and labeling.
  • Notifying authorities of any product safety issues.
  • Cooperating with recall and corrective actions.

Authorised Representative

An authorised representative is any natural or legal person established within the UK or EU who has received a written mandate from a manufacturer to act on their behalf in relation to specified tasks. GPSR responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the Declaration of Conformity and technical documentation available for authorities.
  • Cooperating with authorities regarding any actions taken to eliminate risks posed by products.
  • Communicating with authorities on behalf of the manufacturer.

Fulfilment Service Provider

A fulfilment service provider is any person offering services such as warehousing, packaging, addressing, and dispatching products without having ownership of the products. GPSR responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring products comply with safety regulations.
  • Maintaining records of their activities.
  • Cooperating with authorities during investigations and recalls.

Online Platforms

Online platforms such as Amazon act as intermediaries that facilitate the sale of products between third-party sellers and consumers. GPSR responsibilities include:

  • Implementing measures to prevent the sale of non-compliant products.
  • Cooperating with authorities by providing information about sellers and products.
  • Assisting in recall procedures by notifying consumers and removing unsafe products from listings.
  • Ensuring that sellers comply with product safety regulations and maintaining appropriate documentation.

Applying an Authorised Representative’s Address

Product Identification

Taken from the forthcoming GPSR 2023/988 effective December 13th 2024:

CHAPTER III OBLIGATIONS OF ECONOMIC OPERATORS

SECTION 1 Article 9; Obligations of manufacturers:

Point 5. Manufacturers shall ensure that their products bear a type, batch or serial number or other element enabling the identification of the product and which is easily visible and legible for consumers, or, where the size or nature of the product does not allow it, that the required information is provided on the packaging or in a document accompanying the product.

We would advise that it is not necessary to list type, batch and serial number on simple consumer goods, although it is important to retain some level of traceability.

Contact Details

  1. In relation to contact details:

Taken from the forthcoming GPSR 2023/988 effective December 13th 2024:

CHAPTER III OBLIGATIONS OF ECONOMIC OPERATORS

SECTION 1 Article 9; Obligations of manufacturers:

Point 6. Manufacturers shall indicate their name, their registered trade name or registered trade mark, their postal and electronic address and, where different, the postal or electronic address of the single contact point at which they can be contacted. That information shall be placed on the product or, where that is not possible, on its packaging or in a document accompanying the product.

Therefore, based on this and experience in dealing with distributors and eCommerce providers, we recommend displaying the following on the packaging as a minimum, additionally on the product if possible and if not possible on product or packaging, then on a document accompanying the product e.g. instruction booklet:

Manufacturer:EU Rep:
Your company name ltdAuthorised Representative
Address line 1Address line 1
Address line 2Address line 2
Post codePost code
Country outside the EU e.g. UK 
E-mail: company@address.co.uk 

Note: For products covered by CE Marking legislation, the electronic address is optional.

If you supply products in bulk i.e. packaged together, then you should add the european address of your authorised representative to the outer packaging.

In conclusion, the General Product Safety Regulations 2024 represent a significant step forward in ensuring consumer safety and product compliance within the UK and EU markets. Manufacturers, importers, and distributors must familiarize themselves with these regulations and take proactive steps to meet the new requirements. By doing so, they can avoid penalties, enhance product quality, and ensure the safety of consumers.