Last Friday saw the launch of a new National Product Safety Strategy, which radically overhauls the UK approach to product regulation with more powers being held centrally, a decent budget for interesting new research and a range of new initiatives. The launch is also the first real long-term strategy we have seen from the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) since it launched in January which is a positive step.
Since the OPSS launched, indusry has struggled to understand it's remit and techUK hopes the new Minister and strategy delivers longer term certainty for those who have to engage with it. Businesses know the OPSS took on respnsibilities that belonged to the previous Directorate (Regulatory Delivery), but the OPSS was meant to have a wider role and techUK is pleased to see details of this in the strategy document and delivery plan. The strategy itself has four key objectives:
- Analyse: strengthening analysis to support effective decision making, making the best use of scientific evidence, risk and intelligence.
- Inform: providing information to support consumers in making informed choices and ensuring that businesses have the information they need to be responsible and comply with the law.
- Enforce: delivering responsive, effective and targeted enforcement to maintain protection, fairness and confidence.
- Build: creating a robust product safety system infrastructure that supports innovation and ensures the UK system is fit for the future.
Some of the headline policies in the strategy include:
- Create an ongoing partnership with stakeholders to facilitate data and intelligence sharing, including through membership of the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).
- A new national incident management team for product safety incidents capable of coordinating large scale product recall and repair programmes.
- establishing a new website to support consumers with reliable information and advice about recalled products.
- close working with manufacturers to ensure they are compliant with safety regulations from an earlier stage of the production process.
- developing tools and guidance to assist local authorities in improving risk assessments, identifying mistakes before they happen.