GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE USE OF THE OECD NOTIFICATION SYSTEM ON CONSUMER SAFETY MEASURES
The purpose of these Guiding Principles is to clarify the operating procedures of the notification system and to specify the actions needed to enable clear, rapid reporting of information with a minimum of effort by the reporting countries. Thus they should help decision-making at national level by providing an up-to-date source of information on actions taken and proposed by member countries.
2. Scope of the System
i) Products Covered
The system is intended for consumer products excluding food and drugs, automobiles and related road transport equipment. It covers all measures related to these products except those which are not likely to be of concern to other Member countries. New to the notification system is the inclusion of ancillary services that are clearly related to a consumer product or the installation of a consumer product such as instructions for use, installation and maintenance of the product. Excessive concern for definition of a product or service should not hamper reporting.
There is no reason why Member countries should not, as at the moment, submit notification of other hazards of major importance on a voluntary basis even although they are not included in the above description of "consumer products". Notifying countries should, however, recognise that the time available to contact officers is obviously limited and these voluntary notifications may thus not always reach the responsible officers in the most appropriate departments. They should not therefore be assumed to be a formal notification of a country's actions or intentions. Such voluntary notifications should be on the standard forms provided (see Section 4) but clearly marked "additional" (i.e. additional to the standard notification procedure).
ii) Measures Covered
Under the category "general measures", notifications shall be made of all new legislation, regulations and guidelines relating to consumer safety as well as of officially published draft legislation and draft regulations. Bans and recalls and other specific measures such as public warnings are to be included under the category "individual measures". This category also includes voluntary action taken by producers and/or suppliers (warnings, recalls) to the extent that government authorities have been involved in the process, e.g. through suggesting or negotiating the action taken. Where necessary, such information can be "classified" to maintain confidentiality. Notifications under the category "research" cover both government sponsored projects and, where Governments have knowledge of them, research projects undertaken by universities, manufacturers and other organisations (it is appreciated that these notifications cannot be considered comprehensive since in many cases research in the private sector may not be known to the central contact point). The results of analyses of accident data shall be included in the notifications under the heading "research". Results of routine testing of products are not to be notified.
To avoid confusion over the use of the information in the system and the degree of confidentiality involved notifications are grouped into two categories:
i) Unclassified. This will apply to all notifications of "general safety measures" and "research". The latter could also be notified as "classified" if special reasons indicate the need to do so. Research and individual safety measures will be considered unclassified unless specified otherwise by the notifying country. These notifications will be circulated by the Secretariat and the recipient contact point officers will be free to use them as they think fit.
ii) Classified. This will mean that the notification is sent to contact points but clearly labelled for government use only. Any relaxation of classification requirements can only be granted by the notifying member (the outgoing contact point). Thus, responsibility to respect confidentiality lies with the receiving contact point; whilst it may use the information for its own purposes it is not permitted to disclose details or source. Countries which for legal reasons are not in a position to respect confidentiality should notify the Secretariat.
4. Completion of Notification Forms
The forms provided by the Secretariat are intended to standardize the presentation of information and minimize the time and effort required both for notification and analysis. They are fairly self-explanatory but the following notes should help completion.
i) General safety measures: use this form for legislation (including draft legislation), regulations (including draft regulations) and guidelines aimed at a product group or general hazard areas, e.g. flammability, electrical safety.
ii) Individual safety measures: including bans, recalls and warnings.
iii) Research: use this form for all studies of consumer or product safety whether general, e.g. research into types of accidents or specific, e.g. research into safety of products. It is not however intended that results of product testing should be notified.
Speed of notification is vital if the information is to be of maximum value to other countries. Completion of notification forms should therefore become a standard part of the administrative procedure and the forms themselves sent immediately, preferably by telefax, to the OECD Secretariat. Recommended timings for notifications are:
i) Legislation and regulations: when drafts are first officially published at national level: a second notification will be necessary when legislation or regulations are finally approved. In this case, the reference number of the preceding notification should be quoted. If no modifications are made a simple confirmation note will be sufficient. In case of significant changes, these should be indicated.
ii) Bans and recalls: as soon as the decision is taken or the agreement is made.
iii) Research: when the project is initiated, normally a second notification with an indication of the results will be needed when the research is completed.
6. Contact Points
Member countries shall notify the Secretariat of their national contact points set up in conformity with I/2 of the Decision-Recommendation, including name, official function, address, telefax and telephone number. This list will be up-dated when necessary.