Report a defective product
The UK has left the EU, new rules from January 2021
The transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.
What can be reported, to whom and how.
Products that are defective by design, construction or due to the manner of supply
EU product safety law applies to:
- new products
- products made by users for their own use
- products which are 'new to Europe' (eg second-hand products not previously made available in Europe)
- products which have undergone such major refurbishment (creating new, unassessed hazards) as to render the product 'new'
Product safety law also covers the manner of supply, eg if instructions are missing, wrong or not in the end user's language; or the Declaration of Conformity is missing or incorrect. In all these cases, market surveillance authorities (MSAs) can take action. For guidance and information on how to contact an MSA, see: What you should do.
However, where installation is undertaken separately from supply of the complete item, the failure to install products safely in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions is not considered a product supply issue.
Product safety law does not generally apply to:
- second-hand products, originally placed on the market in conformity with European or (for older products) national law
- products that have been simply refurbished (eg following repainting, or when worn out parts have been replaced with similar ones)
- products modified since first supply or use (unless a substantial modification)
- where defects arise from failure to maintain the product
However, while EU product safety law may not apply to these examples, they are all covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).
What you should do
If you have concerns about a product due to its design, construction or the manner of supply, you should report the matter to the appropriate market surveillance authority (MSA). The manufacture and supply of most equipment used at work - except personal protective equipment and construction products permanently incorporated into buildings (unless also a machine) - fall within HSE's remit and you should report any issues, following the advice on the Notify HSE page.
The other main UK MSAs are:
- HSE Northern Ireland
- Office of Rail and Road
- Trading standards services (local authorities)
- Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
- Vehicle Certification Authority
- National Measurement Office
For further information on the product supply role of each and direct links to those organisations, see: Other regulators.
However, before you report a defective product, it will help in processing and investigating your concerns if you can also provide the following information:
- reasons you consider the product to be defective
- details of any injuries or harm resulting from the defect
- a description of the defect with, where relevant, measurements (such as gaps in safeguards and the distance through such gaps to parts giving rise to danger)
- photographs of the product and the defect, if available
- details of the CE and other markings / information on the product or accompanying documentation (eg type, serial number, date of manufacture)
- full contact details of the manufacturer, any supplier(s) and date of supply
- a copy of the Declaration of Conformity (or Declaration of Incorporation)
- extracts from the user instructions which deal with health and safety
- details of any examinations or tests undertaken
Although this is a lot of information, much of this must be obtained before an MSA can follow up concerns about defective products. Authorities can only challenge manufacturers and suppliers based on quality factual information that confirms non-compliance with legal requirements.
Other regulators wishing to pass concerns about defective products to HSE are requested to complete Section 1 of the Product Safety Request form PSR1 as thoroughly as possible before sending it to HSE through their usual liaison channels.