Ensuring that your products meet the relevant safety and performance standards may not be the most exciting topic, but it is essential - particularly when product failure has catastrophic consequences.
Whether your product just requires a simple CE mark or needs to meet ATEX standards, like the air monitoring device above, the manufacturer has a responsibility to understand and meet relevant regulatory requirements. But if you are just starting to work on a new product, how do you find out which regulations and standards apply to you?
The most important issue is safety, and a good starting point for this topic is the – excellently designed – gov.uk website. This sets out, in clear English, what the manufacturers responsibilities are, products that are covered by safety legislation, and a whole series of specific issues on everything from fireworks to packaging. It also has good advice and links on product liability issues and other sources of information and support.
Another clear guide on this subject is provided by Business Companion. This page also sets out the main issue regarding product safety legislation and standards, but from the viewpoint of trading standards.
There are also a series of specific safety-related standards, like ATEX. This relates to explosive atmospheres that might be caused by flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. In these situations, products need to be developed that are ‘intrinsically safe’ – so cannot create a spark by being struck or dropped, for example. There is excellent and clear advice on ATEX standards on the Health and Safety Executive site. This site also gives advice on other specific safety regulations.
There are many other standards that might apply to your product, from electrical standards (IEEE); UL standards, particularly for products sold in the USA; ISO standards (Europe); and BSI standards (UK). Confused? There are companies that offer to advise on worldwide compliance issues, but the BSI website is a good starting point.
If your product only requires simple CE marking, you can find useful advice on the Gov.uk site. If this does not answer your questions, some companies can offer professional guidance, sometime including a free review of your product.
Ensuring your product complies with relevant standards and legislation is a vital part of being a product developer. It cannot be short-circuited or avoided without leading to commercial problems and/or harm to your customers. In the rush to get that product to market, make sure you give this vital topic plenty of time and attention.