UK law on the design and supply of products

The UK has left the EU, and some rules and procedures have changed from 1 January 2021.

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Brief details are provided on the main UK product safety legislation concerning the design and construction of equipment primarily for use at work, and some of the related supply legislation affecting similar consumer goods. More detailed information on each set of regulations can be found using the links provided below. The safety of substances is subject to the REACH Regulations and so is not covered here.

Most of this product supply legislation has common:

  • definitions for the terms used, like manufacturer, distributor, placing on the market,
  • common obligations on the various economic operators, especially for safety
  • when placing or making goods available on the market, including
    • meeting essential requirements
    • showing this in a technical file
    • the provision of information to the user
    • issuing a Declaration of Conformity (in some cases of Performance, or Incorporation)
    • marking and labelling of the product to enable traceability

Products intended for the UK market must comply with the requirements of all applicable UK legislation, including those listed below, which require UKCA marking instead of CE marking. However, products in conformity with relevant European product supply legislation and correctly bearing the CE marking will (until 31st December 2021) be treated as satisfying the requirements of the relevant UK legislation and need not bear UK marking.

Products intended for the single European market must comply with the requirements of European legislation, including CE marking. UK product legislation continues to align with many of those EU requirements.

Contents

Most new products come within the scope of one or more of these product regulations. However, some work equipment that is not powered or used to lift - such as hand tools, racking and ladders - does not come within the scope of these regulations. Instead these products must meet section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act)

Section 6 of the HSW Act applies to articles and substances for use at work where other more specific product safety law does not apply (see list below, and, for substances, REACH). In particular, section 6 applies to:

Section 6(1) of the HSW Act places a general health and safety obligation on anyone in the supply chain, so far as reasonably practicable, for when articles for use at work are being used, set, cleaned or maintained. This obligation includes providing information and instructions on safe use, including any subsequent revisions to that information, and testing/examination necessary to ensure compliance. Enforcement of section 6 of the HSW Act is undertaken by HSE.

Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations

Most new machinery is covered by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (and the Supply of Machinery (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 which added environmental aspects, but only for machinery applying pesticides). Their scope extends to other non-machinery products as defined including: safety components, interchangeable equipment, lifting accessories, chains, rope and webbing, removable transmission devices and partly completed machinery, but excludes such items as domestic electrical machines, many road going vehicles (but not machinery mounted on them), and fairground equipment. Other products that fall within the definition of machinery but are not covered by these regulations are toys and medical devices where more specific legislation applies (see below).

These regulations require that all machinery and other products in scope:

before they are placed on the market for the first time (or where not placed on the market, before being put into service for the first time). Subsequent use and maintenance is covered by PUWER etc.

These regulations apply to Responsible Persons (as defined), particularly manufacturers or their authorised representatives, and others such as:

However, the regulations do not currently apply to most intermediate suppliers of machinery who are covered by section 6 of the HSW Act.

Some products which are in scope of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations may also be covered by other product legislation in addition, including:

Both HSE and local trading standards enforce the provisions of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, depending on the field of use of the equipment (HSE leads where the product is for use at work).

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 (as amended) replaced the previous Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 on low-voltage equipment (most electrical equipment operating between 50-1000 volts alternating current and 75-1500 volts direct current). Machinery, with a few exceptions (household appliances for domestic use, some office equipment, electric motors and switchgear), which are subject to the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations (as amended) are excluded from these electrical regulations, although the essential requirements and standards made to support these regulations can apply to electrically powered machinery by virtue of EHSR 1.5.1 of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations are supported by many standards and require that electrical equipment be appropriately marked and labelled, constructed to good engineering practice, and safe. These Regulations apply to manufacturers or their authorised representatives, importers and distributors all of whom now have a number of detailed and significant obligations to meet.

Both HSE and local trading standards enforce the provisions of these regulations, depending on the field of use of the equipment (HSE leads where the equipment is for use at work).

Lifts Regulations

The Lifts Regulations 2016 (as amended ) replaced the previous Lifts Regulations 1997. HSE enforces the provisions of these regulations. Certain types of lift are excluded because they are subject to the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. These exclusions include:

Lifts placed on the market or brought into use must be safe (meeting essential health and safety requirements), appropriately marked and labelled and certified by a Declaration of Conformity. Information about the lift, its safe installation, use and maintenance, and other test documentation, must be provided both by and to those installing the lift.

Pressure Equipment Regulations and Simple Pressure Vessels (Safety) Regulations

The Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 and The Simple Pressure Vessels (Safety) Regulations 2016 (both as amended) replace the previous Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 and Simple Pressure Vessels (Safety) Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994). These regulations provide for the safety, by design and construction, of most pressure equipment and assemblies at a pressure of more than 0.5 bar. HSE enforces the provisions of these regulations for equipment for use at work.

Duties for safety are placed on the manufacturer or their authorised representative, importers and distributors. Machinery may include pressure systems which come within scope of these regulations. In such cases, the requirements of these regulations apply to the pressure parts of the machine, alongside those requirements under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations for the machine.

Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations

The Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2016 (where amended) replaced the previous Regulations 1996, as amended in 2001 and 2005, and are usually known as ATEX, for equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmospheres. Safety, controlling and regulating devices intended for use outside potentially explosive atmospheres - but still contributing to the safe functioning of equipment / protective systems against explosion - also come within scope of the regulations. In addition to marking and labelling in common with other product legislation. ATEX equipment must normally bear the specific explosion protection mark - Fig 1. HSE enforces the provisions of these regulations.

Fig 1. Fig 1. Explosion protection mark logo

Manufacturers or their authorised representative, importers and distributors must meet the requirements for safety. ATEX components (eg a rotary valve) may be incorporated within other products (eg dust extraction machinery). In such cases, the machine may be supplied with an additional Declaration of Conformity, relating specifically to the ATEX component.

Gas Appliances Regulations

The Gas Appliances (Enforcement) and Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 2018 (where amended) and Regulation 2016/426 concern appliances burning gaseous fuels, excluding industrial appliances where section 6 of the Health and safety at Work etc Act 1974 applies. Local trading standards services enforce the provisions of these regulations if the gas appliance is designed for domestic use, otherwise HSE is the enforcing authority. The regulations apply to gas appliances and fittings which must undergo type examination by an approved third party before they can be appropriately marked and supplied.

Cableway Installations Regulations

The Cableway Installations Regulations 2018 concern cableways designed to carry people, and their subsystems or safety components. However, they do not cover cableway installations used:

Some other similar equipment is also excluded, such as:

HSE enforces the provisions of these regulations. Prior authorisation from the Secretary of State for Transport for a new or modified cableway is required, and 'stage 2' authorisation is required before the cableway can be put into service.

The Explosives Regulations 2014 (Amendment) Regulations 2016

The Explosives Regulations 2014 (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (where amended) are concerned with safety requirements for explosives, and the security controls on their transfer. These regulations are enforced by HSE. 
The following are generally excluded from the regulations:

They replace the earlier Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives Regulations 1993.

Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015

The Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015 (where amended) concern the placing on the market of pyrotechnic articles and include:

The regulations do not apply to:

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has the policy lead for these regulations and trading standards services have the enforcement role.

Personal Protective Equipment Regulations

The Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018 (where amended ) and Regulation 2016/425 replaced the previous Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 (as amended in 1993, 1994 and 1996), concerning the basic safety requirements of most personal protective equipment whether for use at work or elsewhere. During the transition period (21 April 2018 to 20 April 2019) manufacturers had a choice on whether to place their products on the market under the old or new regulations. Enforcement of these new PPE supply regulations is now split between HSE and trading standards services. HSE leads for PPE intended for use at work in scope of the new regulations and placed on the market under the new regulations.

Further information

Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations

The Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2016 (as amended) replace the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2006, as amended 2006, and concern the avoidance of undue electromagnetic disturbance generated by electrical equipment, and the sufficient immunity of electrical equipment against electromagnetic disturbance. As most machinery is electrically powered, it will have to meet these requirements in addition to those under the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. HSE does not have a role in respect of these Regulations, even for industrial equipment, and most enforcement falls to the relevant local trading standards service.

Construction Products Regulations

The Construction Products Regulations (where amended) concern products produced for permanent incorporation in building and civil engineering works. Where such products are also machinery (eg powered roller shutter doors), they will also have to meet the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 and the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations (if electrically powered).

HSE does not have a role in respect of the Construction Products Regulations, even for industrial products enforcement falls to the relevant Trading Standards authority.

Medical Devices Regulations

The Medical Devices Regulations 2002, as amended 2003 Medical Devices Regulations amendments, 2005 Medical Devices Regulations amendments, 2007 Medical Devices Regulations amendments and 2008 Medical Devices Regulations amendments, concern medical devices used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Where a medical device is also a machine it is excluded from the scope of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, although it must still meet the relevant essential health and safety requirements of the machinery regulations, as these are called up by these regulations. HSE does not have a role in respect of these regulations, even for workplace equipment, and enforcement falls to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Noise Emission in the Environment by Equipment for use Outdoors Regulations

The Noise Emission in the Environment by Equipment for use Outdoors Regulations 2001, as amended 2001 Noise Emission in the Environment by Equipment for use Outdoors Regulations 2001 amendments and 2005 Noise Emission in the Environment by Equipment for use Outdoors Regulations 2001 amendments, are environmental protection regulations concerning noise emissions from equipment for use outdoors. Much of the equipment within the scope of these regulations may also be machinery and so will have to meet requirements under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, concerning noise exposure to the operator and other workers. Enforcement of these regulations falls to the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

Non-Road Mobile Machinery Emissions Regulations

The Non-Road Mobile Machinery (Type-Approval and Emission of Gaseous and Particulate Pollutants) Regulations 2018 (where amended) and the Regulation 2016/1628 concern gaseous and particulate emissions from non-road mobile machinery. In addition to these regulations, mobile construction plant powered by internal combustion engines also come within scope of the Machinery Directive. Enforcement of these regulations is managed by the Department for Transport.

Radio Equipment Regulations

The Radio Equipment Regulations 2017 (where amended) which replaced the Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations 2000, as amended in 2003 Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations 2000 amendments & 2003 Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations 2000 amendments 2<, concern the safety and interference with other radio equipment. Where electrical equipment incorporates radio equipment as defined, the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations 2016 and Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2016 do not apply: instead the safety and functional objectives from them are subsumed into the Radio Equipment Regulations. Enforcement of these Regulations falls to the relevant local trading standards service even in the case of radio equipment for use at work, or OFCOM in the case of the protection and management of the radio spectrum.

Further information

General Product Safety Regulations

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (where amended) concern consumer products which are not covered by any other product legislation. Enforcement of these regulations falls to the relevant local trading standards service.

Toys (Safety) Regulations

The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 (where amended) concern the safety of toys. Where a toy is also a machine, powered by an electric motor or other source of non-manual power - and so potentially falling within the scope of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations - only the Toy (Safety) Regulations apply, eg drones specifically marketed and defined as toys. Enforcement of these regulations falls to the relevant local trading standards authority.

Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations

The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 (as amended) restrict the use of certain hazardous materials (lead, cadmium, mercury, etc) in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. The Office for Product Safety and Standards enforces the provisions of these regulations.

The Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products Regulations 2010 (as amended) aim to improve the environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle, starting at a very early stage in their design. Enforcement of these regulations falls to the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

Updated: 2021-06-14