Supervision of the safety of goods
The basic premise of the Consumer Safety Act (920/2011, in Finnish) is that primary responsibility for the safety of goods lies with the supplier of the goods. Suppliers are natural persons or private or public legal persons who manufacture, import, export, transport via Finland, market, offer, sell or otherwise convey or broker consumer goods. However, the act does not apply to natural persons who supply goods non-commercially.
Suppliers of goods have a general duty of care. Suppliers must ensure, considering the level of diligence and professional know-how required by the circumstances, that their goods do not pose a risk to anyone’s safety or property. Suppliers must have adequate and correct information about their goods and assess the risks involved.
Tukes monitors compliance with the Consumer Safety Act. Supervision is carried out in the form of spot-checks. The authorities cannot inspect all goods. Neither do the authorities issue certificates for safe goods, and instead suppliers must ensure the safety of their goods themselves. Tukes monitors developments in the industries governed by the Consumer Safety Act, follows up on any accidents, and takes action if necessary. Tukes also provides training to suppliers, coordinates international cooperation, and provides advice to suppliers and consumers in matters relating to the Consumer Safety Act. Other competent authorities that monitor compliance with the Consumer Safety Act in addition to Tukes include Finnish Customs, which ensures the safety of consumer goods that are imported to Finland.
The Consumer Safety Act contains provisions on the supervision of the safety of the following goods, among others:
- Personal protective equipment designed for consumer use and sports purposes (e.g. helmets and safety reflectors)
- Machinery designed for consumer use (e.g. lawnmowers and power tools)
- Toys, childcare products and products that appeal to children
- Products that carry a fire risk (e.g. candles, matches and lighters)
- General consumer goods (e.g. sports equipment, hot tubs, furniture, blinds, textiles and ladders)
Forms and methods of supervision
Forms of supervision
- Predictive supervision by means of spot-checks to ensure the safety of goods on the market
- Risk-based supervision campaigns to examine the regulatory compliance and safety of specific product groups, to intervene in non-compliances and to revise regulations and testing techniques
- Reactive supervision by means of reports from consumers, entrepreneurs, and other authorities regarding unsafe products
- Finding products that are included in the Rapid Alert System for unsafe products on the Finnish market and taking action as necessary
- Advice and guidance (e.g. meetings with businesses, cooperation with stakeholders, and promoting a safety-centric culture)
Methods of supervision and powers
Competent authorities have the right, for example, to
- access any information that is essential for supervision,
- take samples and carry out spot-checks,
- charge suppliers of goods for costs incurred from procuring samples and carrying out tests, if a product is found to be unsafe or non-compliant,
- order unsafe products to be repaired or destroyed,
- ban unsafe products from being sold, manufactured, offered, imported, marketed or otherwise conveyed,
- ban unsafe products from being exported and/or transported via Finland,
- impose fines for failures to observe bans or orders,
- order suppliers to inform consumers of risks associated with specific products, of a ban or an order imposed by the authorities, and the rights of consumers,
- take action to prevent danger at the supplier’s expense, and
- request assistance from the police, if necessary.
Other supervisory authorities
The Consumer Safety Act is a form of secondary and complementary general legislation. It primarily governs consumer goods on which provisions are not laid down in special laws, and the supervision of such goods. Several different authorities are involved in the supervision of the safety of consumer goods under Finnish legislation.
Many goods are subject to supervision by several different authorities, depending on where and how they are used. For example, personal protective equipment and machinery are supervised by both occupational safety and health authorities and Tukes, as they can be used both for professional and private purposes. In these kinds of cases, the competent supervisory authority depends on the circumstances in which a product is found to be unsafe or in which the product is typically used. The safety characteristics of some products are subject to supervision by several different authorities. For example, risks resulting from materials that are transferred from cooking equipment to food are the responsibility of the Finnish Food Safety Authority. If, however, the handle of a saucepan falls off, causing a risk of burns to consumers, the matter becomes Tukes’ responsibility.