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Monday January 14, 2019

Surveillance Report Shows OPSS as Under Work

The U.K. Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is still ramping up to full capacity, according to a recent report on the nation's market surveillance activities.


That document (, from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial strategy explained, "OPSS has an operating budget of around £12 million per year for product safety when it is fully operational and is in the process of recruiting additional staff to focus on providing national capacity for product safety."


OPSS, it said, is "building capacity" for:

  • Managing product safety incidents.
  • Improving web-based information for consumers.
  • Providing scientific and technical expertise.
  • Supporting local regulators.
  • Aiding border checks and interceptions.
  • Improving risk analysis and other information collection for guiding enforcement activities.
  • Helping companies meet their compliance obligations.

On the last goal – and on industry interaction generally – the report said OPSS efforts include identifying and contacting trade associations; engaging with industry; creating guidance and providing support materials on specific issues; and giving special attention to small businesses, both via proactive outreach and by reacting to inquiries.


The larger report is thin on data, mostly explaining what various agencies are doing in vague terms. On the topic of the report – market surveillance – it says of OPSS:

"Proactive checks on compliance, whether through inspection of compliance documentation or product testing, may focus on products that are newly in scope of the regulation; product areas that have not been recently examined; or, product areas that have been identified (for example, through intelligence) as presenting a high risk of non-compliance. Information about potential non-compliance can take many forms, including; allegations received from industry (business to business), consumers or non-governmental organisations (NGO’s); referrals from other [market surveillance authorities]; and, information gathered by OPSS through its proactive market surveillance activities. Information about potential noncompliance is critically assessed against a range of criteria before a decision is taken to undertake an investigation or not. The OPSS Enforcement Team is committed to dealing with non-compliance in a manner proportionate to the nature, seriousness and circumstances of the offence. The aim being to deliver enforcement that is fair and objective while also being robust, credible and consistent with the intentions of the legislation."

The report also points to the OPSS strategy paper from last year (PSL, 9/10/18), which provided a deeper dive into the agency's targets, including industry engagement, compliance and enforcement, and international cooperation.


Other agencies covered by the new report on surveillance include the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and others, including those that give support to local trading standards authorities.