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Product safety

All products placed on the European market must be safe.  Safety should always come first when you are thinking about buying a product. A safe product is one that does not cause harm when used in the normal way.

What we do
Product recalls
The CE mark
Business responsibilities
What to do if you find an unsafe or dangerous product
                                                        

What we do

The National Consumer Agency has responsibility for market surveillance in respect of the safety of a wide range of non-food consumer products. We have a number of roles in relation to product safety:

  • Enforcing product safety legislation
  • Investigating complaints about unsafe products received from consumers
  • Carrying out surveillance activities
  • Alerting consumers about unsafe products
  • Advising manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and their representative bodies about their responsibilities
  • Managing Ireland’s input to the EU product safety rapid alert system, RAPEX

If we believe that a product presents a risk to the health and safety of consumers, we have the power to order a business to recall that product from the Irish market and we can prosecute if they do not comply with our instructions. If prosecuted, a retailer can be fined up to €3,000 or face 6 months’ imprisonment or both. In most cases, businesses will cooperate with us to ensure consumers are protected. 

Product recalls

Sometimes a manufacturer or distributor will become aware of a fault in a product or in a batch of products and if they think the product is unsafe they are legally required to withdraw the product from sale.  In addition, they may also request consumers to return the product to them for repair, replacement or refund. This is known as a product recall. It’s not always possible for them to contact everyone who has bought the product directly, so you might see an advertisement in the paper or a notice in shops which sold the product telling you about the recall.

We are responsible for the market surveillance and processing of non-food consumer product recalls in Ireland. If we believe that a product presents a risk to the health and safety of consumers, we have the power to recall that product from the Irish market and we can prosecute a retailer if they do not comply with our instructions.

We are also the Irish contact point of a Europe-wide rapid alert system for unsafe products called RAPEX, which contains a list of all product recalls that have taken place in the European Union. This means if an unsafe product is found anywhere in Europe, the NCA and similar agencies across Europe will quickly know about it through RAPEX. When we are informed about a recall through RAPEX we update our list of product recalls and let consumers know by using social media with all the information. You can also sign up to our Product Recall RSS feed to make sure you are kept up to date.

By raising awareness of product safety amongst consumers, our work helps reduce the likelihood of you encountering unsafe products.

The CE mark

Certain types of products sold in the EU must comply with specific safety regulations. These products must also carry the CE mark which shows that they meet the required safety standards for that type of product. The CE mark should appear on the product, in the instruction manual or on the packaging. 

CE logo

In Ireland, different organisations are responsible for monitoring different products. Products that must carry the CE mark and the organisations that monitor their safety include:

Product

Market safety monitored by:

Toys

National Consumer Agency

Domestic electrical, electronic and gas appliances

National Consumer Agency

Personal protective equipment used by consumers for example, bicycle helmets, sunglasses, swimming armbands

National Consumer Agency

Personal protective equipment used in the workplace for example hard hats

Health & Safety Authority

Machinery use by consumers, for example lawnmowers, drills

National Consumer Agency

Machinery used in the workplace

Health & Safety Authority

Medical devices

Irish Medicines Board

Cosmetics (not required to carry CE Mark)

Irish Medicines Board

Pharmaceuticals (not required to carry CE Mark)

Irish Medicines Board

Mobile phones

Commission for Communications Regulation

Food

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Always look for the CE mark when shopping for these products and if you can’t find it, don’t buy it.

There are other products that do not require the CE mark but must comply with General Product Safety Regulations to ensure that they are safe. These include childcare items, such as cots or babies’ soothers/dummies and other items like cigarette lighters and Christmas decorations.

For more information about CE mark and standards, go to www.nsai.ie

Business responsibilities

All businesses (i.e. manufacturers, importers, suppliers and retailers) are obliged to place safe products on the market. If a business becomes aware that a product it placed on the market is unsafe, which poses a risk to the health and safety of consumers it must remove the product from sale. In addition, they may:

  • Contact you directly to offer you a repair, a refit, or a replacement part. Cars, for example, are hardly ever taken back from the consumer but a refit may be carried out.
  • Provide warnings and information through advertisements and in-store notices
  • Inform the manufacturer and the National Consumer Agency
  • Recall the product (take it off the market)

What to do if you find an unsafe or dangerous product

If you think a product is unsafe:

  • inform the retailer. It may turn out to be a once-off faulty item in which case you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund as normal
  • if you are still not satisfied about the safety of the product, contact us immediately with details about the product and where you bought it. 

What to do if you have bought a product that has been recalled

  • Check if you are affected. Check the product recall details carefully for model numbers, batch numbers and the year of manufacture of the product affected. It may be that just a specific batch is being recalled or it might just affect particular countries.
  • Follow the instructions given in the product recall carefully.

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