Supervision of the safety of services
Pursuant to the Consumer Safety Act (920/2011, in Finnish), responsibility for the safety of services lies with the service provider. Consumer services are services that are intended for private consumption or that are to a material degree used for private consumption. Service providers are natural persons or private or public legal persons who perform, market, offer, sell or otherwise convey or broker consumer services. Local authorities, churches and non-governmental organisations can therefore also be service providers. However, the act does not apply to natural persons who provide services non-commercially (the act does not apply, for example, to private beaches that are accessible to the public). Services provided by non-governmental organisations are also exempt, if they are only offered to members of the organisations and on a non-commercial basis.
The Consumer Safety Act gives Tukes authority to supervise the safety of the following services, among others:
- Amusement parks and funfairs
- Karting tracks
- Playgrounds and indoor play areas
- Ski and crosskart resorts
- Programme services (e.g. adventure services, snowmobile safaris)
- Horse riding services
- Equipment hire services (for consumers), e.g. cabins, sports equipment, tools, canoes
- Swimming pools and spas
- Swimming beaches
- Climbing centres
Forms and methods of supervision
Tukes ensures that consumer services comply with the requirements laid down in the Consumer Safety Act and do not endanger the health or property of consumers. Supervision is carried out in the form of spot-checks. The authorities cannot inspect all the services that fall within the scope of the act. Neither do the authorities issue certificates for safe services, and instead service providers must ensure the safety of their services 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 service providers, coordinates international cooperation, and provides advice to service providers and consumers in matters relating to the Consumer Safety Act. Tukes is a hub of expertise in consumer safety matters, which pools together specialist expertise in consumer safety.
Forms of supervision
- Processing reports from consumers, entrepreneurs, and other authorities
- Drawing up and implementing supervision plans and evaluating the safety of services on the basis of spot-checks
- Carrying out supervision campaigns to assess the regulatory compliance and safety of different types of services, intervening in non-compliances, and revising regulations and methods of supervision
Methods of supervision and powers
- Right to access information that is essential for supervision
- Right to carry out spot-checks
- Negotiations with service providers to eliminate identified risks
- Ordering service providers to rectify non-compliances
- Ordering non-compliant practices to be discontinued
- Ordering service providers to implement actions
- Issuing temporary or permanent bans and imposing fines for failures to observe bans or orders
- Preventing dangerous practices in consumer services
- Ordering service providers to publish information
- Right to request assistance from the police, if necessary
Several different authorities are involved in the supervision of the safety of consumer services.
For example, the quality of water in indoor swimming pools and spas
- is supervised under the so-called Pool Water Decree.
- Food and other products sold in cafés are supervised on the basis of food safety regulations.
- Customer safety (e.g. adequacy of lifeguard services) is supervised on the basis of the Consumer Safety Act.
- The storage of chlorine used in water treatment is supervised by emergency services.
- Emergency services (fire safety inspectors) also supervise fire safety (e.g. adequacy and condition of fire extinguishers, accessibility of emergency exits).
- The police are responsible for maintaining public order and safety (e.g. in the case of aggressive customers).
- The welfare and safety of staff of indoor swimming pools and spas is supervised by occupational safety and health authorities.
Special provisions apply to the safety and supervision of certain types of goods and services. A list of competent authorities can be found in the Who supervises what (in Finnish) section.