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Product Recalls

Since 2010, BAuA has made public more than 1.200 recalls of unsafe products.

Every day manufacturers warn of possible dangers of their products. At the same time, each responsible manufacturer should carry out solid, detailed recall planning prior to such a product recall and establish a recall management.

Since 2010, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) has announced more than 1.200 recalls of unsafe products in the Product Safety Portal www.rueckrufe.de - and the frequency is still increasing. This did not only concern companies with a dubious reputation or products, but also those with a solid quality management. It was and always is about the organisation of the return of a product provided to the end user, in a recall.

Product recalls need absolutely not have any negative impact on the company's reputation. It is rather much more appreciated by consumers if a company is aware of its responsibilities and values the safety and health of its customers. In this respect, product recalls can have a positive effect on the image of the company in the public eye. Anyone who communicates mistakes voluntarily and transparently and also offers consumer-friendly solutions as soon as possible, demonstrates responsibility and gains trust.

Causes

The causes for the continuous increase in product recalls are manifold: On the one hand, legislators have clarified the obligations of manufacturers in the event that risks arise from their products. On the other hand, the social importance of consumer protection is rising. Accordingly, companies and consumers are expecting a higher level of safety and health protection.

As a result of this development, the companies have introduced extensive quality control systems, increasing the likelihood of discovering faulty products. The keeping of complaints and accident books and the carrying out of risk assessments are important instruments of risk management, in addition to regular, planned random checks.

Manufacturers' obligations

The main responsibility for the safety of a product lies with the manufacturer. §6 of the ProdSG obliges them to eliminate any safety risk posed by a product they have made available on the market. How they achieve this goal is initially up to them.

As options, the following corrective measures are available:

  • Changing the designs of the products
  • Withdrawing products from the distribution chain
  • Sending information about the correct use of products
  • Changing products on site, for example, at the customers' site
  • Recalling products for replacement or refunder

In addition, the manufacturer must inform the market surveillance authority as soon as he knows or suspects that a product he manufactures poses a risk to users' safety and health.

Appropriate measures

The manufacturer must carefully weigh the pros and cons before initiating a product recall in the event of a defective product. In principle, he must check whether the absence of recall poses a risk to the health or life of users or third parties.

The greater the probability of personal injury, the more seriously the manufacturer should do his duty and consequently remove the dangerous product from the market. In addition, the person using the product should also be taken into consideration. A recall is almost absolutely necessary if the product is primarily intended for end users or even children. A warning may be sufficient if the product is used by professionals.

In principle, precautions and measures must be appropriate in order to effectively eliminate risks to the safety and health of persons.

Administrative measures

Market surveillance authorities have different possibilities of intervention to make manufacturers and product managers comply with their obligations to customers and assess the necessity of a recall based solely on objective reasons.

The relevant market surveillance authority may order appropriate measures in the event that a manufacturer does not fulfil his responsibility, for example the recall of the product concerned. In addition, a fine may be imposed where the competent authorities have not been informed, not correctly, not in full or not in due time.

The latter does not look too good for the corporate image. This is why it is better to react fast and to handle the situation correctly. In order to make this possible, it is advisable to set up a recall team in good time.

Conclusion: Good recall management facilitates collaboration with the authorities.