RAPEX is the European rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products and it is based on the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) (2001/95/EC). It allows for the exchange of information between the Commission, Member States and certain other countries included in the system of measures regarding products posing a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers.
The RAPEX system applies to consumer products such as toys, electrical appliances, motor vehicles and cosmetics. The system applies also to products for professional use and products posing enviromental risk. The systed does not apply to pharmaceuticals, medical devices or food, all of which are covered by other mechanisms.
The competent national surveillance authority of each Member State has the statutory obligation to use the RAPEX system to report any dangerous products found on the market and inform the system about measures taken to eliminate the risk. In Finland the notification obligation is enforced under the Act on Notifying the Commission of the European Communities of Measures Restricting the Placing on the Market, Sale and Use of Certain Products Presenting a Serious Risk (1197/2009), the "RAPEX Act" .
Each Member State must have a national RAPEX Contact Point, which in Finland is Tukes.
The responsibility for product safety rests with the operator
The European Commission publishes on its website weekly overviews of dangerous products that have been found in Member States.
Weekly Notification reports
Section 5 of the Act on the Safety of Consumer Products and Services lays down a care obligation for enterprises. This means they must monitor the Commission website to check if their range of products contains those that have been found to be dangerous in an EU Member State.
The primary responsibility for product safety lies with the operator (manufacturer, importer or retailer). This responsibility comes with a particular duty to observe care and an obligation to inform the authorities about any safety defects or risks detected in their products. The procedure is in line with these principles and helps entrepreneurs implement their duty to observe care and report defects in practice. This monitoring is made easy by the RAPEX system and the Commission's weekly overviews of dangerous products.
Monitoring RAPEX notifications is also important for the operator's own interests and operational reliability. The system helps to avoid procuring dangerous products in the first place and consequently helps avoid the often considerable costs arising from product recalls.
Section 8 of the Act on the Safety of Consumer Products and Services obliges operators to cooperate with the competent authority to prevent risks. If an operator has imported products specified in a notification or other products posing a corresponding risk to the Finnish market or sold or otherwise distributed them in conjunction with their business (including as business gifts, free samples or prizes), they must take the initiative in taking measures to eliminate and restrict the risk and report the issue to the monitoring authority.
The surveillance authorities also take their own measures to check on the basis of risk assessments whether the the notified products can be found on the market.