European market surveillance of work products is at a crossroads. It is challenged by a combination of diminishing resources and pressure from industry, trade unions and OSH professionals to do more. The task over the next few years will be that of using the available resources more efficiently to create a coordinated, efficient system that supports the Single Market and protects industry in the EU against non-compliant imports.
The challenge is “Doing more with less, by working smarter”. The tools that provide us with information by which we can develop a better system and which help us to eliminate duplication of work include ICSMS – the “general archiving and exchange of information system” of Article 23 of EU Regulation 765/2008, the Nordic countries’ system of joint targeting of work equipment products, and EUROSHNET, in its facilitation of the pooling of information on risks and controls.
The Machinery ADCO has started developing a coordinated system involving EU-wide market surveillance projects that use some of these tools. These projects include: looking at how we can improve surveillance domestically and at external borders; and how the results of market surveillance can feed into better standardsmaking and thereby reduce the need for safeguard actions.
The market surveillance system needed by 2022
In ten years' time, I anticipate that EU market surveillance of work equipment will have been developed into an efficient system of co-operation with customs, workers, and industry. Its purpose will be to: identify key risk areas; plan intervention projects; and coordinate implementation between authorities, using ICSMS for information exchange.
The model that has been developed in the Machinery ADCO can be used as a “route map” to a better system that takes account of all the relevant directives affecting work equipment. Some central funding is needed, in order to ensure that all players are involved and not only the Member States whose delegates can easily travel to meetings.
By 2022, ICSMS is expected to have been developed for use by all EU market surveillance authorities in order to provide comprehensive, up-to-date information on the products examined. This will allow testing data to be shared and duplication of effort to be avoided, and will assure better intelligence and targeting. ICSMS is to have a more comprehensive public section and a new directive-based input system to make input more user-friendly. A direct link to the RAPEX (Rapid exchange of information system for non-food dangerous products) and Safeguard systems could ensure that duplicate entry of data is no longer needed – a “one-click process”.
Member States identifying defective products are to be able to take action to ensure that the products concerned are either modified or withdrawn – throughout the European Economic Area. As at 2012, there are 27 separate legal systems for monitoring and enforcing the single market, but each authority is able to enforce legislation only domestically. I do not expect there to be a single enforcing authority for the EU in 2022 – it is not politically acceptable. I would however like to see an “EU Enforcement Notice” that has EU-wide legal status and could be used by all market surveillance authorities to require a manufacturer or importer to bring a product into compliance, or withdraw it, across the whole EU.
By 2022, I expect us to see an EU-wide system of customs information linked to ICSMS, by which market surveillance authorities can cooperate with customs authorities to identify likely defective products en route to the EU and to intervene at either the port of entry or at the importer’s delivery site.
Finally, I look forward to seeing stronger coordination between all the various affected Directorates-General of the European Commission. The key is the close link between the use of work equipment as addressed by Directive 2009/104/EC and the supply of machinery as addressed by Directive 2006/42/EC. The use of work equipment is where defects are usually identified and where accidents occur as a result of faults and errors in design and use of the products.
To summarize: by 2022, I expect to see effective legal tools, information systems, and funded opportunities for training and cooperation which permit efficient and targeted market surveillance domestically and at external borders.
Article based on a presentation given at the EUROSHNET conference