Canada and Switzerland have recently proposed new federal legislation that would overhaul their product safety regimes and introduce notification and corrective action requirements that will be similar to the provisions of the European Product Safety Directive and therefore familiar to many European businesses.

In Canada, the federal government has again proposed the adoption of a new consumer product safety act to replace its existing consumer safety legislation, some of which is over 40 years old. The act, which is a key component of the food and consumer safety action plan adopted last year in response to a number of high-profile recalls in the jurisdiction, would, among other things:

  • apply to all products used in the domestic context, except those that are regulated under specific legislation – eg food and medicines;
  • include a general prohibition against the manufacture, import, advertising or sale of consumer products that pose an unreasonable danger to human health or safety;  
  • require reporting by manufacturers and importers of any safety incident or grounds that may lead to serious injury or death on strict deadlines;  
  • require suppliers to maintain records to ensure product traceability;  
  • give inspectors the power to order mandatory recalls or other corrective measures if there is reasonable belief that the product poses a danger to public health or safety; and  
  • provide for increased fines and penalties with fines.  

Switzerland’s draft product safety act, meanwhile, has passed the Parliamentary Commission stage and has received the approval of the Council of States. The act, if adopted, would apply horizontally to all products and would introduce obligations on manufacturers and importers to monitor products, ensure traceability, notify regulators in the event of a safety issue and take corrective action to prevent risks to consumers.