On 1 December 2011, the new Product Safety Act came into force. It replaces the old Equipment and Product Safety Act (Geräte- und Produktsicherheitsgesetz - GPSG) and specifies safety requirements for products.
The Product Safety Act (“ProdSG”) defines products as goods, substances or preparations created by means of a production process. Consumer goods are defined in the ProdSG as new, used or reconditioned products that are intended for consumer use or could, under reasonably foreseeable conditions, be used by consumers even though they are not intended for consumers. Consequently, the majority of products, including a large share of work equipment, are consumer products as defined in the Act.
The Act applies to all products made available on the market or exhibited (at trade fairs, for example) in the course of a commercial activity. For certain products, e.g. machinery, the Act also applies to the first time the product is used if the product is assembled by the users.
Products made available on the market must not pose a risk to people’s safety and health. Section 3 of the Act explains what this means in precise terms. Manufacturers must take into consideration both the intended use and foreseeable use.
There are additional requirements for consumer products, specified in Section 6. For instance, all consumer products must bear the name and contact address of the manufacturer plus product identification information. These requirements are based on the European Product Safety Directive, 2001/95/EC. The ProdSG transposes that directive into German law.
Manufacturers, representatives, importers and distributors are required to work closely with the market surveillance authorities. Unsafe products must be reported to the authorities.
Ready-to-use products may have the GS “Tested Safety” mark affixed to them if the mark has been awarded by a GS awarding body (see Sections 20 and 21 of the ProdSG).
The ProdSG also sets out the tasks to be carried out by the market surveillance authorities (Part 6 of the ProdSG, Sections 24-28).
Voluntary testing and certification help manufacturers, importers and distributors meet the requirements of Germany’s Product Safety Act and avoid product liability issues.
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