Product surveillance

In this feature l dangerous products l injuries l rAPEX Damage control From noisy toys to fireworks, the largest surveillance project of its kind to target dangerous and non-compliant goods across the EU has begun. robert Chantry-Price elucidates T he Product Safety Forum of Europe (PROSAFE) has just launched its biggest joint action ever. In the coming two years, 35 market surveillance authorities from 27 European Economic Area (EEA) countries will cooperate to target non-compliant products from five categories: safety barriers; LED and CFL lighting; noisy toys; fireworks; and power tools. The joint action has a number of aims. Firstly, to ensure the safety of consumers by identifying and removing unsafe products from the European market. Secondly, to create a level playing field for business, and thirdly, to support and increase the free flow of goods on the European market. The joint action participants come from across Europe, including the UK, and will address a number of areas. Safety barriers On average, every year across the EU, 75 children aged up to four years old are injured so seriously in incidents involving child gates/ safety barriers that they need emergency hospital treatment. The main problems associated with these products are: falls; entrapment of the limbs or the neck; choking; burns; and poisoning. A revised European standard was published in December 2011. One task will, therefore, be to examine whether the revision has resulted in safer products coming onto the market. References: *RAPEX is established as the EU rapid alert system that facilitates the rapid exchange of information between member states and the EU Commission on measures taken to prevent or restrict the marketing or use of products posing a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers with the exception of food, pharmaceutical and medical devices, which are covered by other mechanisms. TaP TO naVigaTe Pages 1 2 3 4 5 Credits Published You might also like Robert Chantry-Price is CTSIs joint lead Tuesday 29 September, 2015 Shock of the old April 2015 officer for product safety and PROSAFE project coordinator. Images: Chones / Shutterstock To share this page, click on in the toolbar LED and CFL bulbs Light-emitting diodes and compact fluorescent lighting are some of the most efficient products in reducing energy consumption and, as a consequence, these light sources have become very popular in recent years. However, experience shows that low quality, non-compliant and even dangerous LED lamps are being placed on the European market in high numbers. This has caused accidents and fires and compromised the reputation of LED lighting among consumers. Since 2012, there have been more than 90 RAPEX* notifications concerning LED lamps, lighting chains and tubes. In addition, many notifications under the Low Voltage Directive (LVD) show that LED lamps pose a risk of electric shock or fire. A market surveillance project undertaken in 2013 by the EUs LVD Advisory Committee showed that the overall non-conformity rate for these items was very high, with 86 per cent of a sample of 123 lamps not complying with the technical or administrative requirements. Noisy toys The main risk associated with acoustic or noisy toys is that excessive noise exposure can cause direct ear damage, with noise-induced hearing loss or a threshold shift in the ears sensitivity to sound. There can also be indirect adverse effects linked to physiological and psychological effects, as well as impaired cognition. Children are particularly vulnerable as they have a different perception of the dangers of noise, and often lack the ability to control their environment. PROSAFEs joint action activity will focus on testing whether an update to the main toy safety standard, EN71-1, made in 2013, has beenadopted by toy manufacturers. The amendment classifies acoustictoys in three exposure categories, depending upon the duration of exposure including, for example: l Category I toys with headphones or earphones l Category II rattles and squeeze toys, and wind toys that are imitations of musical instruments l Category III cap-firing toys and toy whistles Fireworks In total, fireworks have accounted for 81 RAPEX notifications in the past three years. A previous market surveillance activity, undertaken as part of a joint action in 2011, showed that a high proportion of fireworks were non-compliant. A staggering 48 per cent of the samples were found not to comply with the technical safety requirements and/or the marking requirements. Of particular concern were barrages that were unstable and fell over once they were ignited, and rockets without sticks, whose flight was difficult to predict. These fireworks have caused severe injuries to bystanders, such as serious burns or the loss of an eye. This new joint action will sample and test almost 200 fireworks in the run up to New Year 2016, and prior to New Year 2017. The project will have input from HM Revenue and Customs to prevent illegal fireworks entering the market. It will also consider the problems posed by the sale of fireworks online. Power tools This group of products comprises several sub-groups for instance: drills; saws of different kinds; grinders; shears; nibblers; hammers; trimmers; screwdrivers; impact wrenches, and many more. The main hazards associated with power tools include: cuts; electric shock; burns; flying particles; entanglement of clothing; sprains and strains; noise; and vibration. There have been a significant number of RAPEX notifications in the past five years. Theactivity will address both static and handheld (or transportable) power tools, including those that are widely available in do-it-yourself shops. This activity will also launch a priority-setting process that can guide future activities for thisproduct group. In addition to the five product-specific activities, the joint action includes a number of method development activities aimed at further improving the best practices that EU member states have already established under the umbrella of PROSAFE. They concern: l The risk assessment of dangerous products l Developing e-learning materials for market surveillance officers throughout Europe l Continued Improvement of Market Surveillance by the implementation of mutual assessments, between market surveillance authorities in various EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Member States l Developing links between market surveillance and customs authorities, manufacturing nations and overseas regulatory bodies CTSIs service director for professional standards, Phil Owen, is closely involved in this project and is deputy project leader for the joint action. He is spearheading the institutes involvement in pan-European market surveillance projects, with particular interest in activities that develop best practices and methods, such as e-learning, the European Home Authority Principle and the Continuous Improvement of Market Surveillance that is, peer reviews. About ProSAfE The Product Safety Forum of Europe is a nonprofit organisation that brings together market surveillance officers from all over Europe and across the world. The EU has co-funded the project under the Programme of community action in the field of consumer protection policy 2014-2020. The organisation of market surveillance action has gone from strength to strength in recent years, as more and more countries have seen the benefit of sharing their experience and expertise. Director of Consumer Policy, DG Justice and Consumers, Despina Spanou, and PROSAFE chairman Jan Deconinck, during the launch event On average every year across the EU, 75 children aged up to four years old are injured so seriously that they need emergency hospital treatment