7 September 2021
BFM – working with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) Business Reference Panel Meeting – September 2021
The BFM attended, on behalf of members, the OPSS Business Reference Panel meeting (virtual) held on the 2nd September 2021. The meeting was opened by Sarah Smith – Deputy Director (Regulation and Market Surveillance) outlining the scope of the meeting focusing on the current OPSS Regulatory Reform Programme ‘What you can expect from OPSS’ for Service Standards, Enforcement and Boarder Controls.
The ongoing development of the RRP by the OPSS is in response to the ‘Call for Evidence’ public consultation, which ended mid-June 2021, the National Audit Office (NAO) study of product safety and the subsequent review of the findings in July 2021 with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer the issues raised in the NAO report. The PAC endorsed the approach being taken by the OPSS.
The current framework surrounding UK product safety laws is extensive and complex, with over 20 sets of regulations. It is primarily derived from the EU, but also includes some older, national legislation made under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Within this framework, there are also significant variations and adaptions for different products.
Additionally, products that do not have specific legislation are regulated under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, which provides a baseline of safety in placing requirements on producers to ensure that their products are safe, and on distributers to ensure that they act with due care to ensure that consumer products are safe before placing them on the market.
In January 2018, the government established the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), a new office within the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to bring national capacity and leadership to product safety issues. The OPSS’s product safety operations budget has grown from £10 million in its first year to £14 million in 2020-21.
Its national role includes identifying and assessing product risks and intervening directly on nationally significant, novel or contentious issues. The OPSS works alongside Trading Standards services, which still regulate at local level and undertake most enforcement, and other stakeholders such as the British Standards Institution and Border Force.
OPSS values the views of businesses and others in ensuring the delivery of services meets the needs of different stakeholders. Working in particular with OPSS Business Reference Panel, this group of over 100 organisations and trade associations is a major network for engaging with business and consumer representatives.