The European Commission and the Member States have collaborated for years on improving the safety of consumer products. The European Rapid Alert System is an alert system for the European Commission, the Member States and the EEA countries (31 countries in all) for exchanging information and alerts on products posing a risk as well as national reactions and follow-up actions. The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) serves as the nominated national contact point and coordinates the national Rapid Alert System activities in Finland.
– Active cooperation between the Member State authorities is an integral part of product safety enforcement in the EU Internal Market. Cooperation improves significantly the effective impact of market surveillance when products that are reported as dangerous can be traced and withdrawn from the entire European market through concentrated efforts, says Nina Majuri, Inspector at the Consumer Safety Unit of Tukes.
Notifications issued and follow-up actions taken by Finland in 2015
Finland made 52 Rapid Alert System notifications last year, mostly related to electrical products and toys. In addition, notifications were issued, for example, on jewellery and child care products.
On the basis of the Rapid Alert System notifications, Member States authorities search for the products in their own country, and are responsible for taking follow-up actions whenever necessary, e.g. to order businesses to withdraw the products from the market, or to recall the relevant products from consumers.
A total of 193 follow-up actions were taken in Finland on the grounds of notifications issued by other countries. Most of the notifications were made regarding motor vehicles, which is partly due to their good traceability information. Follow-up actions were also taken on jewellery, toys and hobby equipment, for example. A total of 19 follow-up actions were taken in other countries on the grounds of notifications issued by Finland. The increasing number of follow-up actions provides a prime example of the benefits afforded by European collaboration.
Database of dangerous products
The Commission publishes a weekly overview of the alerts on products reported by the national authorities. The Rapid Alert System database, available at the European Commission website, contains information on more than 20,000 products.
Especially distributors and their personnel tasked with product sourcing would benefit greatly from utilizing the collected information in their activities. By following the weekly overviews of the notified products and by searching the database using the typical risks inherent in their relevant product groups as search criteria, businesses can reduce the risk of including such dangerous products in their offering. Many expensive liability issues can be avoided by taking these very simple precautions beforehand. Businesses are legally liable for the safety of their products, and have a statutory obligation to notify the relevant authority of any safety defect or deficiency detected in their products.
Above all, it is consumers who benefit from the rapid exchange of information on dangerous products, since the products will be more effectively withdrawn from the market.
Commission Press Release 25 April 2016 and the 2015 Statistics on the Rapid Alert System
Inspector Nina Majuri, tel. 029 5052 145, firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekly Notification reports on dangerous products
European Commission Press Release (25 April 2016)
European Commission statistics on dangerous products
European Commission video on product safety and Rapid Alert System
OECD GlobalRecalls portal