The work of the Office for Product Safety and Standards, which is part of the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), around product safety, supporting small business growth and implementing the Industrial Strategy vision of simplifying regulation are explored here
The Office for Product Safety and Standards was created in January 2018 as part of the government’s response to recommendations from the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety – a group of consumer, fire and product safety experts.
Part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Office has grown rapidly, creating dedicated national capacity for product safety while taking forward work on supporting small business growth and implementing the Industrial Strategy vision of simplifying regulation.
The Department is responsible for UK government general policy on everything to do with standards making (but not specific individual standards). Its aim is to improve the standards of infrastructure so that it meets the needs of UK industry and to make the processes more relevant and business friendly.
The Office works closely with the British Standards Institution (BSI), the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), to oversee standardisation, testing and measurement, and certification and accreditation in the UK as part of the UK’s National Quality Infrastructure (UKQI).
- Standardisation: Creating the national and international standards that specify how things should be made and done in a way that is mutually acceptable.
- Testing and measurement: Implementing specifications and standards to ensure validity and consistency.
- Certification: Ensuring those who use standards and codes are applying them in the right way.
- Accreditation: Ensuring those who carry out testing, certification and inspection are competent to do so.
UKQI partners also provide a comprehensive range of consultancy services to overseas governments, including needs analysis in order to target the intervention efficiently; legislative review and advice; consultancy and training; technical assistance covering standards, accreditation, metrology and quality assessment.
Specialist services provided by the UKQI include the full range of UKAS accreditations, support with developing standards and metrology strategy in an innovative area or emerging technology, training for legal/regulatory metrology personnel, and type approval services to companies manufacturing measuring instruments.
Conformity assessment and accreditation are important parts of the nation’s quality infrastructure. By providing confidence in goods, services, management systems and people, they make a significant contribution to the economy, health and safety, and environment.
The Office administers Primary Authority, a flagship programme for making regulation work, protecting citizens and supporting businesses. Primary Authority is available to all businesses, including start-ups, enabling them to receive assured and tailored advice on environmental health, trading standards or fire safety regulations through a single point of contact. This enables all businesses to invest with confidence in products, practices and procedures, knowing that the resources they devote to compliance are well spent.
The Primary Authority Register, an online portal managed by the Office, enables regulators to share information about businesses, so they can focus their resources where they are most needed.
Since it was launched in 2009, Primary Authority has become the established route for helping businesses to comply with regulation, saving time and money but most importantly underpinning the confidence necessary for investment and growth. There are now over 73,000 businesses in primary authority partnerships with 170 local authorities (October 2018).
The Office’s Local Regulatory Delivery team (LRD) coordinates the Better Business for All (BBfA) programme, supporting the simplification of the way regulation is delivered in local areas.
Local BBfA partnerships bring together businesses and regulators to identify the issues facing local businesses and shape the provision of effective support services to them. LRD encourages Growth Hubs to include Primary Authority in their business support offer, in line with the government Industrial Strategy’s aim of ensuring the scheme is available to every business.
LRD provides support to local authorities, LEPS and Growth Hubs by explaining the role that well-delivered regulation has in keeping people and the environment safe while enabling businesses to prosper and grow. LRD works with local partnerships to assist them in identifying ways in which to support local priorities and simplify the way in which regulation is delivered. This includes facilitating discussions between key stakeholders, staging workshops and managing the toolkit of resources for them, drawing on good practice and material provided by LEPs and regulators. BBfA is driven by local activity and benefits from a national perspective. A key role for the team is ensuring that learning is shared across the local regulatory system.
There are now 32 partnerships accounting for 82% coverage of all LEP areas.
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Chief Executive Officer
Office for Product Safety and Standards
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)