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The UK regulates the safety of services provided to consumers under health and safety at work legislation, on the basis that any service provided to consumers is also a work activity. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 has as its objective the protection of the public, as well as employees, from safety risks arising from work activities. This legal framework, for which the Health and Safety Executive has responsibility, is supplemented by a range of safety measures in specific services sectors.
In June 2003 The European Commission issued a report on the safety of services for consumers.
The report noted that the inadequacy of available data and the lack of evidence of specific internal market difficulties maked it difficult to justify any specific option for substantive Community action in the area of the safety of services at that time.
It therefore set as a priority an improvement to the knowledge base and to monitor systematically the existing policies and measures of the Member States. It proposed to put in place actions aimed at monitoring and supporting national policies and measures by:
• establishing procedures for administrative co-operation between Member States in order to systematically exchange information on policy and regulatory developments and the results achieved;
• setting provisions for the systematic collection and data on the risks of services and the establishment of an EU database;
• aiming at the establishment of procedures for setting European standards, if and when the evidence indicates a need.
In the first instance the Commission believed that it would be appropriate to focus on the sectors most relevant to consumers in a cross-border perspective, e.g. tourism and leisure related activities.
In December 2003 the Council adopted a Resolution that the Commission should bring forward proposals for action, including where necessary for legislation, by December 2004. This has so far not happened.