Buyers and importers: Even a cheap product has to be safe
A store buyer has a great responsibility for the products selected to be sold. He or she must be familiar with the safety requirements for a product group and know how to take the steps to ensure safety. All products that end up in consumers' hands (including cheap products and promotional gifts) have to be safe.
A store buyer tries to get the best deals possible, of course, by bargaining and looking for ways to get products with the best possible price/quality ratio. Low price may be the only important consideration for some businesses.
In negotiations, a good manufacturer will be able to point out when it is not possible to sell a product below a certain price because it would mean compromising on safety requirements. This does not necessarily hold true for everyone. A manufacturer who is ready to drop the price incredibly low may be skimping on the quality of raw materials or components at the same time, or the quality or skill level of labour. The product may even lack a part or feature that is essential for safety. The blade guard on a circular saw may be missing or inadequate for operation in all types of conditions, for instance, or lead paint may be used for a toy because it costs less.
The final outcome may be that the buyer gets products that look the same as something displayed at a trade show, perhaps, but don't necessarily fulfil all the safety requirements.
Stores that specialize in selling cheap goods must also keep safety requirements in mind. A low price is no defence if a product is found to be hazardous.
All products that find their way to consumers have to be safe, regardless of the price. The responsibility for product safety rests with the entrepreneur. The authorities monitor compliance with regulations by performing spot-checks.
Instructions for buyers of consumer goods:
- Familiarize yourself with the safety regulations and standards for the product group.
- Draw from your prior knowledge of risks associated with the product group.
- Use common sense.
- Have the product tested yourself, or review the test results presented by the manufacturer.
- Make sure that the testing laboratory used by the manufacturer is dependable and has been designated as qualified, i.e. accredited for the method employed in this particular test.
- Check that the product has been tested in accordance with the requirements (legislation and standards, etc.) for the specific product. Even if test results for a product appear to be in order on paper, it could turn out that testing was not performed on features essential for its safety.
- Find out if the product tested is part of the same lot, or even from the same factory, as the lot you are planning to buy.
- It is a good idea to ask for a copy of the test results already at the buying stage because getting it later may be difficult.
- Find out whether CE marking should be and can be done for the product group. For example toys must be CE marked but childcare supplies don't and therefore must not be CE marked. For some product groups, such as certain kinds of protective gear, CE marking requires type approval by an outside body. CE marking does not automatically mean that a product is safe or meets safety regulations.
- For a CE marked product, ask for a copy of the manufacturer's conformity declaration (conformity declaration not required by the toy safety directive).
- Check the Rapex system to make sure you are not buying products that have already been found to be hazardous.
- Not all product groups have particular safety requirements set by legislation or standards. The safety of these products is evaluated based on the general requirement of product safety legislation, according to which a product must not pose a hazard to consumers' health or property. The importer and the buyer must evaluate the hazards of these products, either on their own or with outside help. This can be done by adapting the safety requirements for similar product groups.
- Make sure that the product comes with appropriate sales packaging, warning symbols, and instructions in Finnish and Swedish as required by Finnish law. See to it that the language used in the instructions is clearly understandable Finnish.
- Check here (in Finnish) to make sure that the product doesn´t exist in Tukes register of the dangerous products