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OPSS to build product surveillance and safety system

22/03/18

New system for non-food products to replace those subject to existing EU systems after Brexit

A division of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is making plans for a post-Brexit surveillance system and product safety database for non-food products.

BEIS sign at front of buildingThe Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), which went into operation in January, has begun to look for support in the alpha and beta phases of a project to develop a service to take over from the existing EU market surveillance systems, the Information and Communication System on Market Surveillance (ICSMS) and Rapid Alert System (Rapex).

The existing systems are used to share intelligence and alerts on non-food products that could pose a risk to consumers, and the OPSS wants to have a minimum viable product in place by this time next year, in advance of the planned date for the UK to leave the EU.

It says in a procurement notice that it wants to collect data from multiple sources and make it available to UK regulators, enforcement bodies, businesses and consumers through the appropriate channels. It also specifies a need to manage product safety cases and keep the relevant parties notified of progress.

In the long term it aims to exchange data with overseas bodies, including those in the EU.

Supporting local authorities

The OPSS was set up as part of the Government’s response to the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety, and has the role of supporting trading standards teams in local authorities and coordinating border checks on relevant products.

At the time of its launch, Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: The new Office for Product Safety and Standards will strengthen the UK’s already tough product safety regime and will allow consumers to continue to buy secure in the knowledge there is an effective system in place if products need to be repaired or replaced.”

Its work covers general non-food products, but not vehicles, medicines, medical devices or workplace equipment, which are covered by other agencies.

Last week, Alex Chisholm, permanent under-secretary at BEIS, wrote to the department’s chief minister Greg Clark saying there is a need for new infrastructure to exchange data on the subject, identify new threats and to mount coordinated responses.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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