Both businesses and consumers benefit from efficient exchange of information
Bruises, broken bones, electric shocks, harmful chemicals – non-compliant products may pose many kind of hazards to consumers. In 2016, a total of 2,044 notifications of dangerous products were entered in the European Rapid Alert System (RAPEX). According to EU Commission statistics, most of the notifications still relate to toys, but notifications related to motor vehicles have increased over the past few years.
Over 2,000 notifications of products posing a hazard are issued to the European Rapid Alert System (RAPEX) every year. The products reported to the system vary greatly, from cars to earrings, and from children's rattles to angle grinders. The most commonly reported hazards are the risk of injury (e.g. bruises or broken bones), chemical risk (e.g. nickel, cadmium, lead and phthalates in toys), suffocation (e.g. easily detachable small parts in toys), electric shocks and the risk of fire. The Rapid Alert System ensures rapid and wide circulation of information about dangerous products within Europe, and also its entry into OECD's international Global Recall portal. This improves significantly the effective impact of market surveillance and enables efficient withdrawal of dangerous products from the European market. The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) serves as the nominated national contact point and coordinates the national RAPEX activities in Finland.
Finland active in making notifications
In 2016, Finland made 63 RAPEX notifications on dangerous products, the highest amount among the Nordic Countries. Most of the notifications were related to toys and various electrical products (e.g. LED light fixtures and USB chargers). Notifications were also made on such products as clothes, textiles, leather products, machines and products related to various hobbies (e.g. self-balancing scooters).
On the basis of RAPEX 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. According to statistics published by the Commission, the total number of follow-up actions has increased, which manifests well the benefits of good European cooperation.
In 2016, follow-up actions were taken in Finland on a total of 204 products on the grounds of notifications issued by other countries, mostly regarding motor vehicles, partly thanks to their good traceability. Follow-up actions were also taken on toys, products related to various hobbies and childcare products, for example.
Useful tool also for companies and consumers
The Commission publishes a weekly overview of the alerts on products reported as dangerous by the national authorities on its website. The database, growing with dozens of products every week, benefits particularly retailers and buyers, who can utilise the data, when, for example, planning foreign purchases.
In recent times, it has been the Commission's aim to make the use of the system more efficient among both consumers and businesses. The search for notifications of dangerous products has been clarified to make the finding of essential information easier. The Commission has also aimed to increase the identification data included in the notifications in order to improve the traceability of products. The weekly report can be ordered as a newsletter, which can be limited to include only certain groups of products or hazards. By following the weekly reports and identifying the typical risks of different product groups, businesses can reduce the risk of including such dangerous products in their offering. 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. However, the system also benefits consumers; particularly, when you are doing on-line shopping, it is good to check that the product has not been listed as dangerous.
Tukes will attend the RAPEX Media Event that the Commission is hosting today and will share its experiences on Twitter. You can also follow the Commission's own Twitter account @EU_Consumer.
Senior Specialist Anna Pukander, tel. +358 29 5052 165, [email protected]