Are you a trader of electrical equipment? If so, are you compliant with the new Electrical Equipment Regulations?
Traders selling any electrical equipment that is designed for use with a voltage rating of between 50 and 1,000 volts for alternating current and between 75 and 1,500 volts for direct current should be aware that, as of June 2016, there are new Regulations with which they must comply.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the market surveillance authority in Ireland for safety of non-food consumer products covered by certain EU Directives including the Electrical Equipment Regulations.
The Electrical Equipment Regulations, which replaced the Low Voltage Regulations, define the role of a manufacturer, importer, and distributor in the supply of electrical items and place specific health and safety duties on each. The purpose of which is to ensure that electrical items such as mobile phone or laptop chargers, electrical appliances, household switches and power supply units are safe and do not pose a risk to the consumers who use them.
Under the Electrical Equipment Regulations, an ‘importer’ is defined as any individual or business established within the European Economic Area who imports electrical equipment from another country to place on the market.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of an importer’s obligations:
- They must ensure that the products they place on the market comply with the Regulations and that the manufacturer has complied with their duties,
- The importer also has a duty to indicate on the electrical equipment their name, registered trade name or registered trademark and the postal address and ensure that the electrical equipment is accompanied by instructions and safety information in clear and intelligible language,
- The importer must be certain that electrical equipment they supply is stored and transported in conditions that do not jeopardise its compliance with the safety objectives of the Regulations,
- The importer may also be required to carry out sample testing of the electrical equipment to ensure that the products do conform to the standards and the requirements of the Regulations,
- If the importer considers or has reason to believe that the electrical equipment they have made available on the market is not in conformity, they must take corrective measures to bring the product into conformity, or withdraw/recall it and immediately advise the CCPC,
- If requested by the CCPC, importers must provide all documentation and information necessary to demonstrate the conformity of electrical equipment to the Regulations. In addition, importers must co-operate with the CCPC on any action required to remove the risk to consumer posed by non-compliant electrical equipment.
Under the Regulations, a ‘distributor’ is defined as any person or business, other than the manufacturer or the importer, who makes electrical equipment available on the market.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of a distributor’s responsibilities:
- They must act with due care in relation to the requirements of the Regulations when making electrical equipment available on the market,
- The distributor must ensure that the electrical equipment bears a CE marking and that it is accompanied by the required documents, instructions and safety information, and that the manufacturer and importer has provided the correct traceability information,
- If the distributor has reason to believe that the electrical equipment they sell is not in conformity, they must ensure that corrective action to bring the product into conformity, or withdraw/recall it and immediately advise the CCPC,
- If requested by the CCPC, importers must provide all documentation and information necessary to demonstrate the conformity of electrical equipment to the Regulations. In addition, distributors must co-operate with the CCPC on any action required to remove risks posed by non-compliant electrical equipment.
Importers and distributors should also be aware that if they market electrical items under their name or trademark or modify products market in such a way that compliance with these Regulations may be affected, then they shall be considered a manufacturer and will be subject to the obligations of a manufacturer listed below.
A ‘manufacturer’ is defined under the Regulations as any individual or business established in the European Economic Area that either manufactures electrical equipment, or who has electrical equipment designed or manufactured, and markets the resulting product under their name or trademark.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of a manufacturer’s responsibilities:
- Manufacturers must ensure that electrical equipment they place on the market has been designed and manufactured in accordance with the safety objectives referred to in the Regulations,
- They must ensure that a conformity assessment is carried out and draw up the technical documentation as specified in Regulations,
- The manufacturer is responsible for drawing up an EU Declaration of Conformity and for affixing a CE mark to the product in accordance with European Directive and Irish regulations,
- They must ensure that the type, batch, serial number or other elements allowing its identification is placed on the product and that the manufacturers name, registered trade name or registered trademark and a single contact postal address is marked clearly on the product,
- Ensure that products are accompanied by instructions, safety information and labelling that is in clear and intelligible language,
- Most importantly, if the manufacturer has reason to believe that the electrical equipment they have placed on the market is not in conformity, they must take immediate corrective measures to bring it into conformity, withdraw it or recall it and immediately advise the CCPC.
The consequences of breaching the Electrical Equipment Regulations
Where a product is found not to comply with the Regulations and could pose a serious risk to consumers, the CCPC has a number of enforcement powers it can use to address the breach. These include the power to remove and detain electrical equipment, issue a Contravention Notice or a Prohibition Notice and if a trader refuses to cooperate, the CCPC can bring criminal proceedings through the courts.
It is also important to remember that if you are importing electrical equipment from outside the EU and it is found not to comply with the requirements of the Regulations, the importation will not be permitted to proceed and you will be responsible for the costs associated with re-exporting the products or for their safe disposal.
The preceding information is not a substitute for legal advice and the CCPC strongly recommends that any trader seek independent legal advice if they are unsure of their obligations.