A compliance program is a series of actions required to be completed prior to releasing a product for sale.
Compliance programs help owners and managers to become more aware of the day-to-day operations of their business, therefore reducing the risk of supplying unsafe and non-compliant products.
There are a number of benefits to introducing a product safety compliance program to your business, including:
- clearly identifying the operational requirements of your business to meet the law
- reducing your risk of product failure and injury to consumers that may result in litigation
- reducing your risk of supplying non-compliant products that can result in court action and penalties
- providing records of controls and business systems
- providing a set of procedures that improve efficiency in managing your business
- minimising repetitive complaints from consumers.
The following elements should be considered when developing a product safety compliance program.
- Responsibility. Either the business owner or a senior manager, known as the Compliance Officer, must have the responsibility to administer the program.
- Commitment. The compliance program must include a commitment to compliance and continual improvement, even if this is as simple as a series of checklists for the products you supply.
- Inspections. The Compliance Officer must complete the checklists and conduct inspections of each shipment of products received.
- Test certificates. The Compliance Officer must obtain appropriate test certificates to ensure products have been regularly tested to the claims made or the mandatory standards required.
- Staff training. Staff should be trained or a least be made aware of compliance requirements and should be encouraged to report any concerns to the Compliance Officer. New products should be shown to staff and the compliance requirements explained.
- Fix problems. Any compliance failure must be fixed before the product is supplied. Supply of non-compliant products can result in legal action against the supplier. A recall with refunds to consumers may also be required.
- Complaints. The first sign of non-compliance is often customer complaints and must not be ignored. Develop a Complaint Handling System as part of the compliance program.
- Complaint handling system (CHS). Develop a CHS that suits your business. The SA Equal Opportunity Commission provides a simple example of a complaint handling procedure. You may wish to seek professional advice. Complaints that are ineffectively handled often result in the matter being reported to government regulators.
- Records. For your compliance program to be effective and reduce your risk you must keep written records on file.
- Mandatory standards. Regulated products have mandatory requirements such as labelling and performance levels. The Compliance Officer must be aware of these mandatory standards.
- Compliance program standard. You can obtain more information about compliance programs by purchasing AS/NZS 3806-2006 Compliance Programs from SAI Global.