We summarized the most important information about the GS mark as FAQs for you:
What is the GS mark and what does it stand for?
The GS mark stands for "Geprüfte Sicherheit", which means "tested safety". The GS Mark is a voluntary test mark which is regulated pursuant to the German Product Safety Act (Produktsicherheitsgesetz, ProdSG), Chapter 5; Sections 20-23.
In particular, it informs the consumer that the appropriately marked, ready-to-use product can be used safely and without danger as long as it is used as intended. As the GS mark can be awarded to both consumer products in terms of Section 2 no. 26 of the ProdSG, but also to products used as work equipment, it also provides employers with a good orientation regarding their obligation to only provide work equipment to employees which is safe (Section 5 of the Industrial Safety Ordinance (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung)). The GS mark is not to be confused with the European "CE” conformity mark. The GS mark does not constitute a comprehensive quality seal for a product; it shows that it has been subjected to a prototype examination in terms of its safety and that the manufacturing process has been checked by a GS body. This does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about either the performance or the shelf life of a marked product. The GS mark is not intended only for products that are manufactured in Germany. The safety level is defined in the Product Safety Act itself. Throughout its service life, the marked product must not pose a risk to the safety or health of individuals or other possible legal interests when used under reasonably foreseeable conditions
What does the GS mark look like?
The conditions for the configuration of a GS mark are detailed in the Annex to the Product Safety Act.
What are the differences between the GS mark and the CE conformity mark?
Products may be given the GS mark if a GS body pursuant to Section 2 no. 11 of the ProdSG has certified that the product fulfils the safety requirements stipulated by the ProdSG and any other applicable regulations. The award of a GS mark always requires a GS body to have tested and certified the safety requirements in accordance with the dual control principle on a neutral and independent basis. Manufacturers or authorised representatives decide for themselves as to whether they wish to apply for a GS mark for their product.
The European CE conformity mark serves to ensure that products can be traded freely and distributed in the European Economic Area, Switzerland and Turkey (cf. Guidelines for the Implementation of the Product Regulations of the EU 2016 [2016/C 272 /01], Chapter 4.5.1). In the majority of CE-marked products, the manufacturer of the product or his authorised representative checks and certifies that the product meets the legal requirements of the harmonisation regulations. Testing by a third party is only required for special products or in special cases. The manufacturers or authorised representatives must declare the conformity of their products with the relevant harmonisation provisions. This is represented by the CE marking.
It should also be noted that the CE marking makes it clear that the product meets the requirements of one or more directives. Not all directives govern aspects of safety and health protection; they can also refer to environmental protection requirements. Therefore, the CE mark must not be equated with a tested for safety mark.
Products must always be safe in accordance with the requirements of the relevant regulations, rules and standards as well as the state of the art. Although this is required of the manufacturing of products by law, it is not necessarily guaranteed in every case, especially if compliance with the safety requirements is certified by a manufacturer without third-party testing.
Which products can be given a GS mark?
All products that fall within the scope of the Product Safety Act can be given the GS mark.
The products must belong to a product group which is suitable for the awarding of the GS mark. One of the tasks of the Product Safety Committee is to make such recommendations (Section 33 (2) no. 4 of the Product Safety Act). Products for which the "GS" test mark may suggest an "inaccurate" level of security will not generally be awarded a GS mark, for example, bicycle locks. Firearms, for example, are not classified as compatible for the GS mark either. Ethical factors are also taken into account; the GS mark is not awarded for toys or games that might glorify warfare, for example. Likewise, products with a simple product configuration and which pose low potential hazard or risk to the consumer are also excluded from the awarding of the GS mark. This relates, for instance to trivial products such as clothes pegs.
Pursuant to Section 20 (2) of the ProdSG, a ready-to-use product which bears the CE mark cannot additionally be awarded a GS mark if the requirements for such a CE mark are at least equivalent to the requirements for the awarding of a GS mark pursuant to Section 21 (1) of the ProdSG. This equivalence can be assumed if the CE mark stands for comprehensive safety and if a conformity assessment procedure has been applied which is at least equivalent to that for the awarding of the GS mark (type examination plus checks on the manufacture of machinery ). In accordance with the modular approach of the CE directives, this is the case for the modules and/or module combinations B+D, B+E, B+F, G and H 1 (modules according to Annex II of Decision no. 768/2008/EC).
Accordingly, a GS mark may not be awarded for the following products:
- Lift systems and their safety components which fall within the scope of the Twelfth Ordinance on the Product Safety Act (12th ProdSV)
- Gas appliances which fall within the scope of the Gas Appliances Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/426)
- Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres which fall within the scope of the Eleventh Ordinance on the Product Safety Act (11th ProdSV)
- Category III personal protective equipment which falls within the scope of the PPE Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/425)
Pursuant to Section 1 (4) of the Product Safety Act, the GS mark cannot be awarded to, among others, the following products:
- Medical devices that fall within the scope of the Medical Devices Act (Medizinproduktegesetz or MPG for short)
Enquiries about the suitability of a product for the GS mark can be directed to the Central Body of the German Federal States for Safety Engineering (ZLS).
How can I obtain the GS mark for my product?
The prerequisite for the use of the GS mark is that a GS body has awarded the GS mark to a manufacturer or their authorised representative. It certifies that the safety and health of the user are not at risk as long as the marked product is used according to its intended purpose as well as in cases where the use is unintended but foreseeable (e.g. misuse). Functional tests, however, are only included in the scope of testing to the extent that they are necessary for testing the safety.
To obtain the GS mark, it is necessary for the following requirements to be fulfilled in particular.
The path to obtaining the GS mark:
- The manufacturer or their authorised representative submits an application to a GS body recognised by the Central Body of the German Federal States for Safety Engineering (ZLS) and ensures that the ready-to-use products comply with the tested prototype.
- On the basis of a type examination, the GS body provides proof that the tested prototype complies with the requirements of the Product Safety Act as regards the guaranteeing of safety, health and other legal regulations, as well as the technical specifications.
- In a certificate issued by the GS body, it is stated that the requirements to be complied with during the manufacturing of the ready-to-use products are fulfilled in order to ensure compliance with the tested prototype.
- The GS body issues a certificate for the awarding of the GS mark.
The GS body carries out control measures to monitor the manufacturing of the products for which the GS mark has been applied for as well as the lawful use of the GS mark. This ensures that during the period of validity, the ready-to-use products continue to be manufactured in accordance with the originally tested prototype. If the requirements for the awarding of the GS mark are no longer fulfilled, the GS body will withdraw the right of the manufacturer to use the mark. It will inform the other GS body and the delegating authority of the withdrawal of the right to use the mark. The awarding of the GS mark is to be limited to a maximum of five years or restricted to a specific production quota or production batch. The GS body is required to publish a list of the certificates issued. The GS body may defer the awarding of the GS mark in the case of reasonable doubts surrounding the lawful awarding of the GS mark.
What added value do products with the GS mark offer in terms of their safety?
Products must be safely made in accordance with the requirements of the relevant regulations and the state of the art. Such products also pose a residual risk as there is no such thing as an absolutely (technically) safe product.
Although compliance with such safety requirements is required of products by law, it is not necessarily guaranteed in every case, especially if compliance with the safety requirements is certified by a manufacturer without any third-party testing.
GS products are tested, certified and regularly monitored by a GS body, i.e. a governmentally-approved, competent, neutral third party. This neutral test demonstrates compliance with the state of the art and the required degree of technical safety.
This results in a more reliable degree of compliance with the legal requirements.
In addition, the requirements will be specified and documented in the form of GS specifications for the relevant product groups where necessary in individual cases. In this case a higher level of safety may result.
What is a GS body?
Pursuant to Section 23 of the Product Safety Act, conformity assessment offices may only carry out a specific remit as a GS body if the authority which issues the permission has provided the required permission. For this purpose, the applying conformity assessment offices must fulfil the following requirements as well as others:
- It must be an independent legal entity domiciled in the European Union or the European Free Trade Area (cf. Section 23 (5) of the Product Safety Act) and free of conflicts of interest.
- It must have demonstrated the competence to be able to carry out the conformity assessment activities for the specific task.
- It must have at its disposal the means necessary for the proper performance of the technical and administrative tasks.