Product Safety: Don't Let a Crisis Turn into a Disaster; So Says Sean Elson, Regulatory Lawyer at Pinsent Masons

The Birmingham Post (England), October 11, 2007 | Go to article overview

Product Safety: Don't Let a Crisis Turn into a Disaster; So Says Sean Elson, Regulatory Lawyer at Pinsent Masons


Byline: Sean Elson

High-profile product recalls and prosecutions are timely reminders of the importance of product safety.

To avoid problems business needs to ensure quality control systems are effective when producing, processing or purchasing products.

When issues arise, it is essential to escalate internally any safety issues both quickly and effectively to prevent a crisis from turning into a disaster.

As events often develop without notice, it is important to have a plan in pace to manage the situation.

Planning should include detailed procedures in case of a need for a product recall which should include an incident management team drawn from senior management as well as from the technical, legal, marketing and sales departments.

These events can cause considerable media interest and the plan should ensure that the company anticipates that interest and the questions that may be asked and that it speaks through a single contact within the organisation who has been properly briefed.

Speculation should always be avoided, as should any comments that might be regarded as an admission of liability that might impact on any subsequent civil or criminal proceedings.

A company is helped in these circumstances by having an understanding of the law relating to product safety.

The General Product Safety Regulations came into force on October 1 2005, their purpose being to ensure that all products used by consumers are safe. Similar provisions for food products are contained in the General Food Regulations of 2004.

The product safety regulations introduce the concept of the "safe product" by referring to the likely use of the product and the need for a high level of consumer protection - it is a criminal offence under the regulations to put on the UK market products that do not meet this safety requirement. …

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