European policies and general provisions for product safety
Some necessary definition
The technicality and the peculiarity of the topic requires the explanation of some definitions to better understand the matter.
Safe product: it is any product that used in normal conditions does not present any risks or it presents only acceptable risks, which are compatible with its use and considered acceptable within a context of high consumer protection standards.
Dangerous product: any product not compelling with the definition of safe product.
Grave risk: any serious risk that needs the quick intervention of public authorities, included those whose effects are not immediate.
Producer: it is the manufacturer of the product established within the EU, and any other person whose name or mark or symbol is applied on the product, or any other person who repairs the product. A producer can be also the representative of the manufacturer, if this latter is not established in EU. If there is no representative in EU, the importer is considered the producer. Also all other professionals who are part of the commercialization chain are considered as producers, according to the degree their activity affects the final product.
Distributor: it is any other professional of the commercialization chain, whose activity does affect the product safety.
Recall: the measure taken to remove from the market a dangerous product, which was already available to consumers.
Withdrawal: any measure intended to avoid the distribution of a dangerous product.
The concept of safety
According to the decree, a safe product is any product that used in normal conditions does not present any risks or it presents only acceptable risks, which are compatible with its use and considered acceptable within a context of high consumer protection standards, according to certain elements:
- the product features, among them composition, packaging, assembly and maintenance;
- the effects of the product on other products, if the use is joint;
- the demonstration, the labelling and the instructions;
- the category of consumers for whom the use can be dangerous, in particular minors and elderly people.
Furthermore the competent authorities shall adopt the necessary measures to limit the entry on the market or to ask the withdrawal of dangerous products.
The importance of the instructions
The advertising of a product can affect the consumer’s decision to buy it and his expectations about the safety degree of the product.
Beside that, also the instructions have the task to provide the consumer with information, also technical, about the product, in order to reduce all the possible risks arising with the use of it. This information plays a major role in product safety.
In order to correctly help the consumer in using a product, the instructions shall have the following features:
- completeness: the instructions shall clearly specify the risks deriving from a wrong use of the product;
- evidence: the risk shall be clearly recognizable and understandable;
- intensity: the consumer shall clearly understand the seriousness of the risk he faces.
Public administrations, according to their competence, control that products on the market are safe.
The system of controls foresees the adoption of actions which are proportioned to the risk arising from the commercialization of a product, also after it has been put on the market. This activity is carried out after deep researches, and tests on product samples.
The public administration can foresee and apply specific precautions for products that are particularly risky. It can also decided to forbid a product ( forever or for a period of time) or it can ask the producer to improve its safety features.
The type of controls and actions carried out by the administrations are:
- For any product:
- to order, also after the commercialization of a product, verifications of its safety features by also inspecting the production or packaging factories or the sale shops;
- to ask all the necessary information to the parts;
- to use samples of the product to test the safety features and writing a report of it to be given to the interested parts;
- for any product that can be risky at certain conditions:
- to ask the application, in Italian, of specific instructions about the risks of the product;
- to establish prevention conditions before authorizing the commercialisation.
- For any product that can be risky for certain people:
- to order that these people are informed promptly of the risks, also through the publication of specific notices;
- For any product that can be dangerous:
- To forbid, for the period of controls, the sale or exposition of it;
- to order the producer to respect the safety obligations within a deadline;
- For any dangerous product:
- to forbid the putting on the market and to adopt the necessary measures to respect the prohibition.
- For any dangerous product already on the market, for which any action carried out by producers and distributors is not satisfying:
- o to order its immediate withdrawal and to inform the consumers about the possible risks. The costs of this action are at the producer’s expenses and if it is not possible or partially possible also at the distributor’s expenses;
- to order or to organize with producers and distributors the withdrawal from the consumers and its destruction. These costs are at the producer’s and distributor’s expenses.