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UK Government intends to modernise product safety laws

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced plans to review and strengthen the UK’s product safety laws to ensure they are robust enough for the 21st century. This is largely because much of the current safety regime is based on laws dating as far back as 1987. Over the last 30 years, the way in which consumers acquire products has changed dramatically — largely because of the internet and online shopping.

In our recent State of the Nation Recall Index report, published 23 February, we anticipated a change in the recall tables relating directly to online shopping habits. Online shopping has been a gift to millions of consumers and especially the businesses who would not have survived the pandemic without it. We also referenced a report by Internet Retailing [1] which highlighted that more than 85,000 businesses launched online stores and joined online marketplaces between March and July of last year. This followed reports that over 750,000 businesses had to close their doors due to COVID-19.

According to another report cited in Electronic Products & Technology [2], the European consumer electronics segment saw 29% of its total sales occur online in 2019, but by 2023 that is expected to rise to 37%. This increase will coincide with investments in e-commerce. It is little wonder that the UK has decided to take action now that it has full authority on its own product safety laws.

Recent innovations including the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 3D printing are two things the Government’s Call for Evidence [3] will explore. In a press release, UK Gov said that connected devices like smart watches, AI and 3D printing are making the landscape of product safety more complex.

The consultation process represents an opportunity for individuals, businesses and organizations to have their say on product safety and ultimately help shape the future of product safety in the UK. The government is looking for information on:

  • Product design
  • Manufacture and placing on the market
  • New models of supply
  • New products and product lifecycles
  • Enforcement considerations
  • A diverse and inclusive product safety framework

This is easily the biggest and most important thing to happen around product safety in Europe. As product recall experts, we will be taking part and we urge anyone in the supply chain to have their say too. We’re ready to make history and we hope you'll join us.

Sources:

[1] https://internetretailing.net/covid-19/covid-19/85000-businesses-launch-online-shops-as-b2c-and-b2b-ecommerce-surge-in-lockdown-21639

[2] https://www.ept.ca/2020/12/pandemic-hammers-europes-consumer-electronics-sector/#:~:text=According%20to%20data%20presented%20by,amid%20the%20COVID%2D19%20outbreak.

[3] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/967823/uk-product-safety-review-call-for-evidence.pdf

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