V. Ryan © 2003-2021

The designer and manufacturer of a product have a moral obligation to make sure that a customer / consumer is not injured by it when used. Also, both the designer and manufacture must be socially and environmentally responsible. Putting it in simple terms, the final product must not be a danger, cause damage to people in any way or damage the environment.

A number of Government agencies try to protect the general public from products that are unsafe. Laws also protect the consumer and some are outlined below.

The Consumer Safety Act is mainly concerned with safety especially when considering clothing, toys and electrical goods. The government can ban dangerous goods with this Act.

The Trades Description Act protects the customer against false claims. For instance if a manufacturer says that a product will increase intelligence and it obviously fails to do so - then the manufacturer can be taken to court. The Trades Descriptions Act tries to ensure than manufacturers claims about their products are true.

The Sales of Goods Act is aimed at ensuring that goods work in the way they should and that they last a reasonable amount of time.

Fire Safety Regulations - aim to protect the public against poor quality furniture that could be a fire hazard. The aim is to stop the sale of furniture that is easily set alight and give off dangerous toxic fumes.




1. Ed the Handyman has designed a ridiculously dangerous toy for a child. It is a mechanical dogs head. When the handle/stick is banged on the floor the fierce jaws, with sharp teeth, snap shut at supersonic speed. What is dangerous about this toy?

Which Act could be used to ban it from sale in the shops?


2. Ed heís a Handyman has designed a hair brush. He claims it will help hair grow especially if the user has very little hair. However, when used it pulls hair out by the roots instead of combing it properly.

Which Act could be used to stop its sale?



3. Ed the Handyman has little commonsense, he drinks and smokes. The hot ash from his cigarette falls onto his old armchair and sets it alight easily. Ed has failed to check if the chair is made from fire retardant fabric and foam. He found the chair on a rubbish tip and decided to use it himself.

Which Act prevents manufacturers selling dangerous furniture like Edís armchair?


Ed the Handyman designs products that are so dangerous that he has been chained to two important safety symbols, by the police. These symbols can only be applied to products that have been tested thoroughly by agencies such as the British Standards Institute (BSI). The BSI test a wide range of products, checking that they work safely and perform exactly as the manufacturer states. If they pass all the tests, then the manufacturer is allowed to put the symbol on their product. This means that a customer can easily check that the product has passed safety tests.

4. Go to a toy shop and list toys that have these two symbols on them. Do you consider each of the toys to be safe?