Surveillance of the safety of consumer services to be centralised in Tukes as of 1 May 2016
Consumer safety surveillance has been part of environmental healthcare, and consumer services have been supervised in municipal co-operation areas under the guidance of the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) and Regional State Administrative Agencies. In December 2015, the Finnish Parliament decided on an amendment to the Consumer Safety Act according to which consumer safety surveillance will be separated from environmental healthcare; the jurisdiction of the municipalities and Regional State Administrative Agencies over consumer safety surveillance will be transferred to Tukes as of 1 May 2016. In addition, operators are no longer obliged to make a notification before commencing the provision of a consumer service.
After transferring the surveillance of consumer services to state control, there will be only one authority focused on the surveillance of services – Tukes. Prior to the amendment, local authorities have operated in 62 regional co-operation areas as well as in the Regional State Administrative Agencies. In the future all contacts concerning the safety of consumer services will be referred to Tukes. Operators will make statutory notifications of dangerous services to Tukes (Consumer Safety Act, section 8), and consumers may send their observations of any safety flaw in a service to Tukes as well. There is no longer the obligation to make a notification before commencing or changing the provision of a consumer service (Consumer Safety Act, section 6). This does not affect the operators’ obligation to draw up a safety document (Consumer Safety Act, section 7).
In the future surveillance will be conducted by 15 officials within Tukes
Janne Niemelä, M.Sc. (Tech.) has been appointed Head of Unit for the new, established Consumer Service Safety Unit in Tukes. Previously Niemelä worked as a senior specialist in consumer product surveillance and in tasks involving the safety of consumer services within Tukes´ Consumer Safety Unit. Senior Officer Kaarina Kärnä, who has been responsible for steering the supervision of consumer services within the Consumer Safety Unit, will transfer directly from her previous position to the new unit.
The first five new senior officers will start in Tukes during May. Rest of the specialists responsible for the various service sectors will be recruited in groups during current and upcoming year. The personnel will be based in Helsinki, Tampere and Rovaniemi. At first stage the personnel will be located only in Helsinki and Tampere. Eventually the unit will consist of 15 specialists.
Co-operation will continue, and surveillance will focus on safety management
Tukes will continue co-operation between other surveillance authorities like the municipal officials responsible for consumer safety surveillance used to do before the reorganisation. For example, Rescue Services and the Police will continue to be important partners. Policies regarding surveillance and opportunities for co-operation will also be planned at central agency and ministerial level. Although consumer safety surveillance will be separated from environmental healthcare, it will be important to keep links to authorities within environmental healthcare both at regional and national level. Moreover, co-operation with other organisations such as federations, associations and sports organisations will play a central role in improving the safety of consumer services.
A key objective in the reorganisation of the surveillance of consumer services is to change the way in which surveillance is carried out. Surveillance will focus more on the safety management and improving the safety management. The centralisation of surveillance will improve the possibilities to provide operators with tools that support safety management and with service-specific instructions that are made in co-operation with sports associations. The surveillance of nationally operating operators and travelling operators will become more streamlined. Tukes hopes to involve all partners in developing new surveillance methods and in supporting operators´ safety management.
Tukes´ website will be updated due to the reorganisation. For this reason, parties that have links to the contents of Tukes´ website should check that they function after 1 May 2016. The contact details and areas of responsibility of specialists within the Consumer Service Safety and Surveillance Unit will be updated on the website. Notifications from consumers, entrepreneurs and other parties, which should be dealt with by Tukes, but which have been sent to the wrong authority should, under section 21 of the Administrative Procedure Act, be transferred to Tukes and addressed to the register office.
Tukesin verkkolehden juttu, Tukes online magazine article (in Finnish) about the views of Tukes employees regarding the surveillance of consumer services.
Janne Niemelä, Head of Unit, tel. +358 29 5052 153
Kaarina Kärnä, Senior Officer, tel. +358 29 5052 184
Email formats: [email protected]