Market surveillance is the activity undertaken by public authorities across Europe, through which the safety and compliance of products with European product safety law is checked. Where necessary, action may be taken to secure both a high level of protection for the health and safety of consumers, workers and the environment, and that the EU free market in this area operates correctly. This activity has traditionally been called 'product safety work' in HSE.
Over the last 10-20 years there have been various market surveillance provisions under different areas of European law. The European Commission reviewed these provisions and published a decision in 2008 proposing improvements, to align national systems and provide a consistent framework. These were brought into effect by a new direct acting Regulation (EC) No. 765/2008, concerning accreditation and market surveillance.
European Regulation (EC) No. 765/2008, concerning accreditation and market surveillance
This European law, which came into effect from 1 January 2010 and is binding upon all member states, provides a consistent framework for the rules on:
Each member state must appoint a single national accreditation body, whose role is to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.
The Accreditation Regulations 2009 appointed the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) as the national accreditation body for the UK.
All member states are required to:
- organise and carry out market surveillance to ensure that products liable to compromise health and / or safety - or which otherwise do not conform to legal requirements - are withdrawn from the market or have their availability prohibited or restricted
- communicate these arrangements to the Commission and the public
- establish co-operation and co-ordination mechanisms between their market surveillance authorities (MSAs), for example, HSE, trading standards, etc
- share resources and expertise between member states
- establish procedures to follow up complaints and reports on products, monitoring for harm that may be caused by products and undertaking programmes of market surveillance
- ensure MSAs undertake checks on products and, where non-compliance is found, verify that corrective action has been taken
- entrust MSAs with the powers, resources and knowledge necessary for the proper performance of their task
- ensure that MSAs exercise those powers proportionally, independently and impartially
- observe confidentiality where necessary to protect commercial secrets, subject to whether making such information public may protect user interests
- alert users of any hazards identified with a product to reduce the risk of injury or other damage
- notify the Commission where measures are taken to deal with products presenting serious risk, and communicate market surveillance findings to the Commission and other member states (through the RAPEX and ICSMS systems)
Market surveillance in the UK is carried out by a number of organisations who lead in different areas. HSE's role as an MSA is primarily with regard to equipment used at work.
Controls on products entering the Community market
All member states are required to:
- provide the necessary powers and resources to the relevant market surveillance authorities responsible for the control of products entering the Community
- share information and co-operate with other border control authorities
- enable those authorities to take action to prevent, in certain cases, the free release of products
- where necessary and proportionate, enable the authorities to destroy or otherwise render inoperable products presenting a serious risk
Since 2009, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has taken on the majority of Customs work at the UK border. In a number of areas, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) retains policy responsibility for border activity and, in this regard, the UKBA acts as a delivery agent for HMRC. UKBA has the primary responsibility for clearing the movement of goods and people across the UK border - subject to the completion of the satisfactory checks stipulated by HMRC - and collecting relevant taxes and duties, where appropriate.
Member states are required to ensure the correct use of CE marking, and take action in the event of its improper use.
Details of current and past market surveillance projects are available.