The Directive: GPSD 2001/95/EC
The GPSD 2001/95/EC (General Product Safety Directive) was published on January 15, 2004. In order to place products in the European Economic Area, distributors and manufacturers must comply with this directive. The aims of the directive are to protect consumers’ health and safety and to ensure the EEA functions properly in relation to this directive.
The GPSD 2001/95/EC is designed to protect consumers from unsafe products. These harmonized standards and essential requirements must be met for products to be placed in the European Economic Area. Some examples of products that fall under this directive include sports equipment and household products. Specifically, any product that will be used by consumers or may be used by them unintentionally must comply with this directive.
A “safe” product is defined in this directive as any product, when used under normal circumstances, that does not contain any risk to the users or the risks are minimized that is compatible with the product’s use. The product will undergo a safety assessment, and only when the product is deemed ‘’safe’’ will it be allowed to be placed in the EEA. Along with this, producers must provide the necessary information on the product warning the user of the risks associated with the product. This must include:
- Relevant information to enable consumers to assess the risks inherent in the product throughout the normal or reasonably foreseeable period of its use
- Information to consumers of risks which the product might pose
- Choose to take appropriate action including, if necessary to avoid these risks, withdrawal from the market, adequately and effectively warning consumers or recall from consumers
Under certain conditions, if a product is deemed to be unsafe, the European Commission can ban the marketing of it, recall it from customers and withdraw it from the market.
The Member States of the EU must enforce the requirements of the GPSD on manufacturers and distributors of products. They must also appoint authorities to be in charge of market surveillance.
The directive provides an alert system, the RAPEX system, which ensures the exchange of information about risk assessments, dangerous products and scientific development amongst other aspects necessary for control of safety of products. It also helps to promote joint testing and surveillance projects, the exchange of expertise and cooperation within the EU.