As an entrepreneur, you must know your role in ensuring safety and compliance, and know your obligations In addition, you should recognise the obligations of your business partners in order to be aware of how responsibilities are divided.
Please note that the requirements set for each sector and product group vary according to the applicable legislation. Operation in certain sectors subject to a licence which must be obtained before commencing any business activities. You can find more detailed information on the requirements set for each sector and product group on the individual websites.
The definition of the role of the manufacturer varies from branch to branch.
- In terms of products, the manufacturer refers to the actor that produces or designs a product or uses a subcontractor for this and markets that product under their name or a trademark.
- In terms of chemicals, the manufacturer refers to a company that is based within the EU and that manufacturers substances in the EU region.
Example: Ella begins to manufacture toys in addition to her day job
Ella designs a toy intended for children and plans to start manufacturing and selling the toys at events and fairs in addition to her day job.
Ella is a manufacturer. As a manufacturer, she must ensure that the toy conforms to all the applicable regulations and requirements. For example, Ella must prepare technical documentation, affix a CE marking and prepare the declaration of conformity.
The authorised representative
The authorised representative refers to a representative nominated in writing by the manufacturer to act on its behalf in certain matters related to ensuring the compliance of products. The authorised representative must be based within the EU.
The definition of the role of the importer varies from branch to branch.
In terms of products, the importer is the actor that the importer is the actor that
- imports products or substances from outside the European Economic Area to be sold on the EU market
- imports the products to Finland. This applies to products that are not governed by harmonised EU legislation, such as articles of precious metals
- imports the products to Finland. This applies to product groups that are governed under producer responsibility, such as batteries, accumulators and packages.
In terms of products, the importer is also responsible for the obligations of the manufacturer in the following cases:
- the importer places a product on the market under its name or a trademark
- the importer alters a product that has already been placed on the market in a manner that may affect the compliance of the product.
In terms of chemicals, a manufacturer refers to a company that is based within the EU and is responsible for importing the chemical to the EU region.
Example: Matt orders protective covers for mobile phones from outside the EU and starts to sell them online
Matt orders a protective cover for a mobile phone for his personal use from an online store outside the EU. The protective cover proves to be very practical. Matt decides to order more covers and starts to sell the covers online.
When Matt orders the protective covers in order to sell them, his role changes from a consumer to an importer. As an importer, Matt is responsible for ensuring that the mobile phone covers conform to the applicable EU regulations and special Finnish requirements.
If it later turns out that the protective covers have posed a hazard to the users, as the importer, Matt has an obligation to take steps. Depending on the situation, Matt will need to take steps to ensure the covers meet the requirements, to remove the covers from the market, or to arrange for a product recall.
Example: Sara’s import company orders unpackaged electric whisks with no trademark, and packages them in her company’s packaging.
Sara has an import company that imports products from a manufacturer outside the EU region. Sara decides to order a batch of unpackaged electric whisks with no trademark from the manufacturer. She packages them in her own packaging and affixes her trademark to the packaging.
When Sara affixes her trademark to the electric whisks, her company’s role changes from an importer to a manufacturer of electric whisks, and her company now has the obligations of the manufacturer of the whisks.
In general, a retailer refers to a distributor.
The definition of the role of the distributor varies from branch to branch.
In terms of products, the distributor refers to the following:
- a company that sells a product manufactured in the European Economic Area or a product or substance previously imported to the Economic Area
- a retailer or wholesaler of products or substances
- a company, association or other such entity that distributes products or substances to consumers free of charge
- a seller of second-hand goods, such as a recycling centre or a flea market.
In terms of certain product groups, such as electrical products and consumer products, the distributor is considered to be the manufacturer.
The distributor is considered to be the manufacturer when
- the distributor places a product on the market under its name or a trademark
- the distributor alters a product that has already been placed on the market in a manner that may affect the compliance of the product.
In terms of chemicals, the distributor is a natural or legal person, also a retailer, based in the EU region and engaged only in storing and placing on the market a substance as such or as a component in a product, on behalf of third parties.
Example: Hairdresser Mike gives free hair brushes to his customers
Hairdresser Mike order hairbrushes form a company in Belgium and gives them free of charge to his first one thousand customers. When Mike buys the hairbrushes from inside the EEA and gives them to his customers, he is considered to be a distributor.
Broker or agent
A broker or agent refers to a company that
- conveys products from a foreign manufacturer to a Finnish retailer, or
- transmits services implemented by someone else and intended for consumers.
A broker may not necessarily be in possession of the product or service; rather, it is a question of transmitting orders between actors.
For their part, a broker or agent must ensure that the products and services conform to the applicable safety regulations. The obligations set out in consumer safety legislation also apply to brokers and agents, and the authorities may also take action against them.
Other roles in chemicals legislation
There are also other roles within chemicals legislation:
- producer of an item
- only representative
- downstream user
- handler of chemicals.
Roles in industry
In order to ensure safe operations in industry, companies must appoint persons responsible for certain operations. These include:
- Operation supervisor and operation manager
- An operation supervisor or operation manager is a person employed by the company with supervisory and guidance duties who ensures that the operations, equipment and machinery comply with the regulations. The competence and qualification requirements of operation supervisors and operation managers vary from sector to sector.
- A responsible person
- Responsible persons can be found in installation companies and shops, for example. The duties and qualification requirements of a responsible person vary from sector to sector.