1. General Product Safety

What is the legislation that covers product safety?

The National Consumer Agency is responsible for enforcement of five European Community Directives:

Council Directive 92/59/EEC on General Product SafetyH
Council Directive 88/378/EEC on the Safety of ToysV
Council Directive 73/23/EECon electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limitsV
Council Directive 89/686 /EEC on Personal Protective EquipmentV
Council Directive 90/396/EEC on appliances burning gaseous fuelsV

 (H = a horizontal/general Directive relating to consumer products in general;

 V = a vertical/specific Directive relating to specific products/product ranges)

What are the main requirements of the General Product Safety Directive?

This legislation imposes a duty on manufacturers (or their representatives if the manufacturer is outside the EU) to ensure that products placed on the market are safe and do not pose a risk to the health or safety of consumers.

What is a CE mark?

Image of the CE markThe CE mark looks like this.

The CE mark on a product is an indication that the product meets the essential safety requirements of the relevant directives.

Where must the CE mark appear?

The CE mark should only be affixed to products covered by the vertical directives. Products covered by the GPSD should not be CE marked.

The CE mark should be affixed to the product, to its instruction manual or to packaging in a visible, easily legible and indelible form. The mark must appear on the product unless there are good technical reasons why it cannot appear, and it must be at least 5mm high.

What products are exempt from displaying a CE mark?

Antiques and second-hand products that have been reconditioned or repaired provided that the supplier clearly informs the buyer of this beforehand.

2. Toy safety

What are the main requirements of the Toy Safety Directive?

 The European Communities (Safety of Toys) Regulations 1990 regulate and prohibit the placing of toys on the market unless they meet essential safety requirements.

How is a toy defined?

Toys are defined as any product or material clearly intended for use in play by a child of less that 14 years.

Must toys have a CE mark?

Yes, all toys must carry a CE mark, and toys or their packaging must contain the name and address of the manufacturer or the authorisedrepresentative in the EC.

3. The Low Voltage Directive (LVD)

What is the Low Voltage Directive?

Low Voltage legislation covers most electrical equipment with a voltage:

  • Between 50 Volts and 100 volts for A/C; and
  • Between 75 Volts and 1500 Volts for D/C.

In practice, this accounts for nearly all electrical devices found in the home and office.

Do LVD products have to carry a CE mark?

Since 1994, all such devices have been required to carry a CE mark.

What electrical equipment is NOT covered under the Low Voltage Regulations?

The regulations do not apply to electrical equipment for use in an explosive atmosphere, for radiology and medical purposes,specialisedelectrical equipment for use on ships, aircraft or railways, electricity meters and electric fence controllers.

Domestic wiring is covered under the wiring rules drawn up by the Electric Technical Council of Ireland. 

4. The Personal Protective Equipment Directive (PPE)

What are the main requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Directive?

The legislation provides that PPEs cannot be placed on the market unless they comply with basic health and safety requirements. All PPEs must carry a CE mark.

What is aPPE?

PPEs are items like bicycle helmets and life jackets and also components designed to be used in protective equipment, such as filters in masks etc.

N.B.The NCA's responsibilities only relate to PPEs for recreational use. The use of PPEs in the workplace is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Authority.

5. The Gas Appliance Directive

What are the main requirements of the Gas Appliance Directive?

The legislation requires all devices and appliances burning gaseous fuels to carry a CE Mark. This applies, for instance, to cookers, gas heaters, patio heaters and gas-fired barbeques.

6. Appendix

The five European Community Directives above have been transposed into Irish law as follows:

  • (1) European Communities (General Product Safety) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 197 of 1997)
  • (2) European Communities (Safety of Toys) Regulations 1990 (S.I. No. 32 of 1990)
  • (3a) European Communities (Low Voltage Electrical Equipment) Regulations 1992 (S.I. No. 428 of 1992)
  • (3b) European Communities (Low Voltage Electrical Equipment) (Amendment) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 307 of 1994)
  • (4) European Communities (Personal Protective Equipment) Regulations 1993 (S.I. No. 272 of 1993)
  • (5a) European Communities (Appliances Burning Gaseous Fuels) Regulations 1992 (S.I. No. 101 of 1992)
  • (5b) European Communities (Appliances Burning Gaseous Fuels) (Amendment) Regulations 1995(S.I. No. 150 of 1995)