Product Safety

Businesses have a duty to supply only safe consumer products and hence consumers have a right to be protected from unsafe products.

What the Legislation states

  • All consumer goods must be as safe as reasonably possible. Some products are dangerous by nature like power tools. These goods must be made as safe as possible and carry instructions and warnings.

  • Toys must carry a CE mark and details of the manufacturer or importer. They must be made to meet certain minimum safety standards. Many toys need an age and safety warning because they could be dangerous for young children.

  • New and second-hand upholstered furniture must be made of materials which resist fire. In most cases the furniture should have a swing ticket showing a lighted match and cigarette, plus a permanent label giving production details.

  • New and second-hand electrical goods and gas appliances must comply with detailed safety rules. Second-hand items should be tested by a competent person before being offered for sale. All these items must be supplied with full instructions.

  • Food containers, packaging and utensils must not transfer substances which could endanger human health or otherwise affect the food. Some of these items need not be marked 'for food use'.

  • Children's nightdresses, dressing gowns and bathrobes must be resistant to fire and therefore need not carry a fire warning label. All other nightwear for children and adults need not be fire resistant and therefore must carry a permanent fire warning label.

  • All cars on offer for sale must be roadworthy. A current MOT certificate is not a guarantee of roadworthiness.

  • Alcohol, cigarettes, fireworks and a range of other products must not be sold to children under 18. If in doubt, seek proof of age.

  • All electrical goods must be safe and electromagnetically compatible.

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 allows consumers to sue manufacturers or importers for injury or damage caused by unsafe products. Anyone affected has this right. Consumers do not have to prove negligence. Liability can rest with the producer of the product or of a particular component or both. This action could be taken in addition to any criminal prosecution.

Products covered by safety legislation include

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (SI 2005. No. 1803) transpose Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety into UK law. The purpose of the General Product Safety Directive is to ensure that all products intended for or likely to be used by consumers under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions are safe. The Directive pursues its principal objective of ensuring consumer product safety by;

  • specifying that products placed on the market or supplied by producers and distributors must be safe;

  • defining a safe product;

  • imposing obligations on producers and distributors consistent with marketing safe products;

  • laying down a framework for assessing safety;

  • requiring enforcement authorities to be empowered to take the action necessary to protect consumers from unsafe products.  

How to comply with the Legislation

  • Always buy from reputable suppliers

  • Ensure all relevant products are CE marked

  • Look for signs of approval or compliance - Kite Mark, British Standard

  • Make sure products are fully detailed and identified on invoices. Keep all invoices

  • Check all products for damage or other obvious safety problems

  • If in doubt, speak to the supplier and your Trading Standards Officer


  • Any warnings and instructions in respect of goods sold loose must be drawn to the attention of the consumer

  • The law applies to both new and second-hand goods

  • Age warnings on toys are safety warnings

  • Check returned goods for damage if you intend to resell them

  • If you supply goods in response to a specific request, you must ensure that they are safe for that purpose

  • Unsafe products may result in you having to compensate someone who is injured. Supply also covers offering or displaying goods for sale or hire and includes free gifts

  • Products must comply with all relevant safety regulations, not just a British, European or International Standard

  • Importing unsafe products may result in you having to compensate someone who is injured

Rapid Alert System for non-food consumer products (RAPEX)

RAPEX is the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products - with the exception of food, pharmaceutical and medical devices which are covered by other mechanisms.

Product Recalls

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute contains a list of product safety notices and recalls. If you are concerned about the safety of a product, make your concern clear to the retailer, manufacturer or your local Trading Standards Service.

Whirlpool Recall

To access information on the recall announced by the OPSS on the 10 July 2019 go to Whirlpool and the update announced in December 2019 go to Whirlpool twitter.

Safety of Batteries in Electronic Cigarettes

To access information on the safety campaign on the safety of batteries in electronic cigarettes, announced on the 17 February 2020 go to  

Office for Product Safety and Standards

To access information on product safety go to the website of the Office for Product Safety and Standards

Which? Policy Report on Online Marketplaces and Product Safety

Product testing by Which? has found a succession of unsafe products for sale on online marketplaces in recent years. This includes toxic levels of chemicals in children’s toys; child car seats that are illegal to use in the UK; smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that do not work, and USB chargers that pose a fire or electrocution risk.

With over 90% of people now using online marketplaces to buy an increasingly wide range of consumer goods, these sites are no longer novel ways of shopping but normal practice for millions of people.

The report (pdf 250 kb) sets out the need for action to strengthen the legal responsibilities of online marketplaces and ensure that public authorities have adequate powers, tools and resources to require action from marketplaces when people are put at risk. Specifically, they are calling for a number of actions in relation to the following so that people can be confident they are only buying safe products:

  • Online marketplaces should be required to ensure that consumer products offered for sale by sellers on their sites are safe.

  • The actions that are required by online marketplaces when unsafe products are identified should be clarified.

  • Equip enforcement officers with appropriate powers and resources to police online marketplaces.

  • There should be greater transparency obligations so that consumers are clear who they are buying from.

Press Articles

To see the type of consumer products that the Trading Standards service has an interest in go to the Chronicle of the 23 December 2019.


Trading Standards service, Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. Phone: (0191) 2116121. Email:  


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