The NAO report examines the extent to which the UK’s product safety regime can protect consumers from harm and keep pace with changes in the wider environment, focusing on the role and work of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). 

This report is timely as it has been released the day before the closure of the OPSS Product Safety Review.

OPSS have been in operation since January 2018. They aim to deliver consumer protection and to support business confidence, productivity and growth. Working alongside local regulators such as trading standards they regulate a wide range of products with a focus on product safety and integrity.

The key findings of the report are:

  • Safety requirements in the UK are widely considered to be appropriate for most
    products, and the OPSS is working to keep regulations up to date
  • The regulators rely on influencing industry to comply with product regulations,
    but an estimated 24% of businesses are unaware of their responsibilities
  • Consumer engagement with product safety is weak
  • The OPSS’s ability to influence the safety of products being bought and sold is
    constrained by gaps in its understanding of consumers and industry.

The report acknowledges that:

  • The OPSS has made impactful responses to some high-profile national product
    safety issues since it was established in 2018
  • The OPSS has been slower to address other serious areas of consumer
    harm as it does not have the data and intelligence it needs to assess consumer
  • The OPSS has provided new forms of support to local Trading Standards
    services, which they have found helpful
  • The OPSS does not yet have a way to measure its own performance or the
    impact of product safety regulation
  • Despite these improvements, local and national approaches are not yet
    well coordinated

Read the report here.