Consumer Protection and Advice for Staying Safe: things to consider when buying and using products in the UK.
This is the thrust of the series of publications that the British government started on 29 March 2019. These announcements return on a very regular basis and they have only one reason: to keep consumers safe.
We fully support this initiative, hence our attention to these posts.
Consumer Protection and Advice: Things to Consider When Buying and Using Products
Product safety regulations protect you from harm caused by the items you own or use at home or while outdoors. You may, however, take practical precautions to protect yourself and your family. Let’s go through a few important steps that consumers can take to keep their consumption as safe as possible:
1. Check Before You Buy: What to Think About When Shopping
Firstly, you need to think carefully about who and where you are buying from.
While the internet has made it much easier to get a product delivered to your door, this, too, involves a risk. If you buy it from a seller outside the UK, there’s a danger it wasn’t made or labeled in compliance with our safety rules.
Take a moment to examine any merchandise you’ve purchased. Are there any warning labels on it? And furthermore, are the directions easy to understand? Do you know the manufacturer’s name and address? If not, these could be red flags. When utilizing the product, exercise caution. Furthermore, when purchasing secondhand items, you must also exercise caution. If the instructions are missing, the manufacturer’s website may provide them.
When you want to buy electrical products online you need to pay extra attention. Electrical Safety First, an initiative from the UK government, provides very good and specific details on what to do. In fact, underneath in the “links and downloads-“ section, you can find the link to their website.
Some products must bear the necessary labeling or else they may not be sold in the UK. This is a manufacturer’s statement that the product complies with particular safety, health, and environmental standards.
Toys, electrical goods, gas appliances, fireworks, and personal protection equipment such as goggles, gloves, and helmets are examples of products that fall under this category. Only buy these types of products if they are clearly marked and have the manufacturer’s name and address on them.
Until 1 January 2023, products sold in Great Britain may display:
- CE marking, or
- UKCA marking, or
- UKCA marking and CE marking, or
- UKNI marking and CE marking
Products sold in Northern Ireland may display:
- CE marking, or
- UKNI marking and CE marking
2. Register Your Products
Many household devices, particularly those that are electrical, have the option of being registered with the manufacturer. This is commonly done to activate an extended warranty or guarantee, but it is also crucial for safety reasons.
By registering your product, you will be notified immediately if there is a safety issue with it, and you will be able to get any necessary repairs completed as soon as feasible. If it’s recalled, you’ll get a refund or a replacement.
To register a product, go to the manufacturer’s website, find the registration page, and fill out and submit the form. In fact, underneath in the “links and downloads-“ section, you can find the link to a page called “Register my appliance”. You might also be able to register via phone or mail. Both new and used products are eligible for registration.
If you don’t register, you risk unintentionally using dangerous products.
3. Examine the Instructions and Follow Them to Optimize Consumer Protection and Advice to Stay Safe
The instructions that come with products are designed to help you use them safely. Therefore it’s important to read and follow them.
- cleaning fluids should be securely stored in cupboards, well out of reach of children;
- heavy furniture should be attached to the wall to avoid it tipping over;
- fridge freezers need to have enough room behind them for air ventilation.
Detailed product safety information on specific types of products is available from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). In fact, underneath in the “links and downloads-“ section, you can find the link to their page.
4. What to Do if Your Product Has a Potential Safety Risk
Consumer products are the responsibility of all businesses that manufacture, import, distribute, or sell them in the United Kingdom.
If a company discovers that a product it has sold poses a safety concern, it must take steps to address the problem. This could include giving customers new instructions, changing the product, or ordering them to cease using it and return it for a refund. The maker must notify all of the consumers who are known to be affected by the problem and inform them of what they should do.
If you receive an email or letter from a manufacturer with the words ‘Important Safety Warning’ or ‘Product Recall’ displayed, you should:
- check if it relates to a product you own
- take any actions it recommends
- get answers from the website shown on the notice if you have questions, or by calling the manufacturer, whose number should be provided in the letter or email
5. What to Do if You Are Concerned About the Safety of a Product
If you are concerned about the safety of a product, contact the consumer helpline to Citizens Advice in England or Wales or to Advice Direct Scotland. The links to their webpages are in the section underneath this post. Your complaint may be referred to the relevant local Trading Standards service, who may take further action.
You may be entitled to a refund, a replacement or a repair if there is a safety issue with a product you own, but not if you have damaged or misused it.
6. What to Do if a Product Causes Injury or Damage
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation if an unsafe product causes injury to you or your family or property damage. For more information, call Citizens Advice in England and Wales or Advice Direct Scotland’s consumer helpline. In fact, Citizens Advice can also provide information on how to file a claim for compensation.
Consumer Protection and Advice for Staying Safe: things to consider when buying and using products in the UK: Links and downloads
- Electrical Safety First
- Register my appliance
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
- Citizens Advice (for England & Wales)
- Advice Direct (for Scotland)
- Product Safety Alert (Recalls and other information about hazardous products)
- Product Recalls and Alerts (UK government page about recalls and alerts)
- Consumer Rights (after their product has been alerted on safety issues or when it is recalled).
- Toys Safety Directive (2009/48/EC) explained (example of European regulation for producers and manufacturers)
Find information on the safety of other products
Finally, the safety of some consumer products is the responsibility of specific agencies:
- Workplace products are covered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
- Foods are covered by the Food Standards Agency (FSA)
- Drugs and medical devices are covered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
- Vehicles and vehicle parts and accessories are covered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)