Consumer Protection General
Council Environmental Health Officers working in Consumer Protection aim to protect consumers from the risk of injury or ill health from non-compliant goods manufactured, supplied or used in the Borough.
Environmental Health Officers can deal with general non-food consumer goods but also enforce specific safety requirements on consumer goods such as:
- Electrical equipment
- Cosmetic products
- Products used in building
- Push Chairs
- Motor Vehicle Tyres and
Officers of the Environmental Health Department undertake the following duties:
- Proactive inspections of premises
- Surveys of goods to ensure they are safe
- Sampling and testing goods
- Ensure age restricted products such as tobacco and cigarette lighter refills are not sold to underage children
- Investigation of warnings, alerts and complaints regarding unsafe goods
- Advising businesses to ensure compliance with safety standards
- Ensuring construction products are fit for purpose in partnership with building control
- Promoting home safety and providing advice to the public on home safety and other consumer safety issues.
In the course of their duties, Environmental Health Officers may:
- Enter premises and inspect products
- Examine and take copies of documentation e.g. procedures
- Take and keep your products
- Apply to the courts for forfeiture of products
What kind of action can inspectors take?
When we take enforcement action, we try to be fair and to treat all businesses in a similar way. We will explain why the action is being taken and give business owners the opportunity to have their views heard if they have concerns.
Click here to view Council’s Environmental Services Enforcement Policy which sets out more detailed guidelines for enforcement action. Inspectors can take the following types of enforcement action depending on the level of risk to people’s safety:-
- Serve a suspension notice forbidding the supply of goods for a limited period
- Require that goods are marked with a warning or warnings are sent to people who have already bought goods to make sure they use the goods safely
- Serve withdrawal notices to stop a business supplying goods
- Order or arrange for dangerous goods to be recalled.
In some circumstances the officer may feel that it is necessary to take a legal action for
- Supply of products that do not meet safety standards
- Not selling goods in line with age restrictions; or
- Not following notices (such as a suspension notice, which forbids supply of goods for a prescribed period).
Again the council’s enforcement policy will give more details on how decisions to prosecute are taken.
What must businesses do to make sure the products they supply are safe?
The duties of the business depends on their position in the supply chain. There are specific duties for producers and distributors. Producers include manufacturers, anyone who repairs or reconditions goods or whose activities may affect the safety of the product. Retailers are generally classified as distributors.
Producers must take steps to:
- Make sure the products they supply are safe:
- Give customers relevant information and warnings; and
- Keep themselves informed about the risks
These steps should include:
- Using batch numbers or other ways of tracing goods;
- Sampling and testing products
- Investigating safety complaints; and
- Telling others in the supply of the findings of sampling and testing
- Cooperate with and carry out some monitoring (depending on the size of the business)
- Pass on any information about the safety of goods to customers and producers; and
- Cooperate in any action to avoid safety risks.
How do I complain about a product as a consumer?
If you have safety concerns about a product, contact a member of the Consumer Protection Team at your local Council office as detailed below who will investigate. You may need to provide the product to an Environmental Health Officer for it to be sent for testing.
Trading Standards deal with complaints about counterfeit or faulty goods or false/misleading descriptions and can be contacted on 028 9025 3900.
Will this investigation help me to claim compensation?
The purpose of our investigation is not to obtain compensation for you. If you wish to seek compensation you should take independent legal advice regarding this.