Report a defective product
The UK has left the EU, and some rules and procedures have changed from 1 January 2021.
What can be reported, to whom and how.
Products that are defective by design, construction or due to the manner of supply
Most specific product safety law requires that products are safe and compliant when first placed on the market or put into service. 'Safe' here includes risk to health arising from use of the product. It applies to:
- new products
- products made by users for their own use
- products which are 'new to the market' (eg second-hand products not previously made available on the market)
- products which have undergone such major refurbishment (creating new, unassessed hazards) as to render the product 'new'
Such product 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.
Most specific product safety law does not apply to:
- 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
- where installation is undertaken separately from supply of the complete item, any failure to install products safely in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions
However, while product safety law may not apply to these examples, their use is covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), and Section 6 of the Health and safety at Work etc Act 1974 may apply on installation or to second-hand products that were originally placed on the market in conformity with the law when they were first made available.
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 medical devices, construction products permanently incorporated into buildings (unless also a machine) and the radio or electromagnetic capability aspects of equipment - 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 (HSENI)
- Office of Rail and Road (ORR)
- Trading Standards (Local Authorities in Northern Ireland)
- Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
- Vehicle Certification Authority (VCA)
- Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)
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 markings / information on the product or accompanying documentation (eg type, serial number, date of manufacture, CE or other conformity markings, UKCA))
- 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 the markings / information on the product or accompanying documentation (eg type, serial number, date of manufacture, CE or other conformity markings, UKCA)
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.