The EU’s General Product Safety Directive (GPSD), which was implemented in January last year and comes into force later this year, extends the responsibility to other ‘distributors’ in the supply chain for product safety recalls, including vehicles.
Automotive services company MSX International warns that fleet operators could be characterised as ‘distributors’ and could face legal ramifications if they fail to meet their new obligations of ensuring affected vehicles on a fleet are notified to an authority, recalled and fixed.
Bill Starling, senior consultant with the company, said: ‘The legislation imposes new responsibilities on manufacturers regarding the monitoring and rectification of safety concerns through recall or other positive action.
‘It also extends the responsibility for action to others in the supply chain, including distributors.’ Starling said product recalls for fleets disrupt maintenance schedules and increase the risk of vehicle downtime.
He added: ‘This makes them a real annoyance but the necessary inspections and remedial work must be carried out to ensure affected vehicles are made safe and employees are protected as a consequence.’
Starling estimates that the number of recalls between 1994 and 2004 doubled from 88 to 200.
He said: ‘This is probably a result of increasing vehicle technology complexity and the growth in on-board electronic systems. A likely effect of the legislation is to increase the number of recalls even further and one leading global manufacturer is gearing up for a 30% increase during 2005. These numbers are just for safety recalls.
There are many other recalls for a variety of reasons, including legal compliance and improvement of the product.’
The Department for Trade and Industry has completed a consultation process for the new legislation, which is expected to become law in the autumn.