The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has recently announced that it intends to establish a new Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) in response to recommendations made by a Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety. The recommendations followed a review of the UK’s product recall system, which began in 2016.

It is thought that the OPSS will be responsible for product safety for non-food goods, such as 'white' goods, electrical items, toys, clothes and cosmetics in the UK. The Government has stated that in its new role, the OPSS will help to coordinate the response to any national product safety incidents and identify emerging issues through working with local authorities and fire and rescue teams, among others. The OPSS will also test products to assess the safety risks they pose and help inform Government policy.

Charlene King, an associate in the product liability team at Penningtons Manches, said: “This is welcome news which we support entirely. There are already a number of regulators which take responsibility for product safety in vehicles, medicines, medical devices and workplace equipment, and an overhaul of the UK’s consumer product recall system is long overdue. The products which will fall into the remit of the OPSS are fundamental in many households, and in the absence of appropriate recall systems, when product safety concerns do arise thousands of consumers are at potential risk of injury and loss. Product safety in the UK is an increasing concern and over the last few years research has found that product recalls have been steadily increasing. Manufacturers have the power to be proactive when it comes to product safety and we hope that with the assistance of the OPSS more will be done to ensure that this increasing risk of harm is reduced.”