The Product Safety Act 2004 (PSG 2004) lays down standards for the safety of consumer products which – such as electrical goods or machines – are not covered by special regulations. The Federal Ministry enforces the PSG 2004.
The Product Safety Act 2004
The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for the enforcement of the Product Safety Act 2004. This law obliges companies to only distribute safe products. If necessary, companies have to take measures to avert danger if a product is unsafe. If required, the authorities can oblige companies to take suitable action. In extreme cases, a product recall and the destruction of a batch of products can even be ordered.
Measures against dangerous products are included in the EU-wide RAPEX database. Other countries and organisations, such as the US and the OECD, maintain similar databases.
Product Safety Board
The Product Safety Board advises the Ministry of Social Affairs when it comes to assessing the risks of products. The board has published a range of recommendations in the past. Authorities and companies use these recommendations to assess the conformity of products.
Standards (such as the Austrian ÖNORM or the European EN, for example) also contribute towards product safety. They are not actually binding, but for companies they provide guidelines on how they can manufacture safe products.
Some standards are ‘upgraded’ by being listed in the Official Journal of the EU and then in the Austrian Federal Law Gazette. Manufacturers who adhere to these standards can assume that – on the basis of the European Product Safety Directive or the Austrian Product Safety Act – their products are considered to be safe.
Home and Leisure Time Accidents
The Austrian Road Safety Board (Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit) records data on home and leisure-time accidents (the Austrian Injury Database) with the support of the Ministry of Social Affairs. Trained specialists interview patients in hospitals, which provides precise insights into how accidents happen.
Dangerous products themselves cause relatively few accidents. However, the surveys on home and leisure accidents reveal high-risk activities, risk groups and problematic product areas. In addition, by carrying out comparisons with the data of other countries we can recognise trends in accidents and product safety.
The current annual report in German is available here.
Another one of our research partners is the Centre for Research into Children’s Accidents which is run by the Austrian Committee for the Prevention of Accidents among Children in Graz. This research centre is particularly focused on how children’s accidents occur and how they can be avoided.
For reports please go to the website of grosse-schuetzen-kleine.