The need for SAFEhouse in a safe South Africa

 

Apex Cordset Technologies adhere’s to both South African and international  quality standards and have strict in-house policies in place to guarantee that our clients receive the safest products on the market.  We strictly enforce all the relevant national and international legislative requirements when it comes to product safety.  Our membership with the SAFEhouse association is further testament to our pledge to uphold the safety of South African consumers.

In our previous article we took a brief look at the South African SAFEhouse Association and the events surrounding its formation.  South African consumers are however well within their rights to wonder just how a situation came about where an industry must effectively resort to self-regulation to maintain basic safety standards and safeguard its consumers.   While living in a so-called nanny state is certainly not the solution, consumers might be forgiven for merely assuming that their best interests are being looked after by government bodies and regulatory boards, especially when it comes to products that can pose the potential life-threatening dangers upon malfunction as posed by electrical goods.  In this post we examine the roles of South African regulatory bodies and how these inadvertently contributed to the influx of cheaper unsafe electrical products.

The challenges faced in the  South African regulatory environment

The challenge is essentially two-fold: On the one hand, the role of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has undergone a significant change since 2008.  Its role nowadays is more that of a commercial certification and  testing facility, and the trusted SABS stamp of approval has been replaced  as the guarantee of the high standard that all products on the market are held against.  The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), which was once part of the bureau, has instead taken over this  role by issuing compulsory specifications and regulating the compliance of goods sold into the South African market. (Unfortunately, its role is very limited, and a great number of products are never tested, allowing sub-par goods to slip through the cracks.)

On the other hand since there is no compulsion to comply with the certification mark such as the SABS mark   , a single LOA document issued on a test report and no inspection of the product or factory has been found to be open to abuse. The process is simple : One set of perfectly compliant samples often refered to as “Golden Samples” are submitted for testing at an accredit laboratory. Upon issue of the test report tp the NRCS an LOA is then issued for a total of a 5 year period without further tests or investigation.  Orders arethen placed on the manufacturer , who in some cases then unscrupulously produces the products using sub-standard materials (cheaper) based on the issued LOA for 5 years.

This uneven playing field that has been forced upon South African manufacturers is therefore detrimental to local industry. Safehouse has been engaging with the NRCS to try and resolve the challenges as set out above in order to prevent non -compliant product from entering our market and thereby ensuring the safety the South African consumer.

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