Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Programmes
  • Demonstration project (EEC) with a view to introducing a Community system of information on accidents involving consumer products, 1985-1991

Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 11,9 million

Official Journal Reference

L 109 of 1986-04-22

Legislative Reference

86/138/CEE of 1986-04-22
To collect data on accidents involving consumer products with a view to promoting accident prevention, improving the safety of consumer products and informing and educating consumers so that they make better use of products.


In its Resolution of 14 April 1975 concerning a preliminary programme for a consumer protection and information policy (Official Journal No C 92 of 25.4.1975), the Council stressed that consumer products, under normal circumstances, should present no risk to health or safety and that, where such risks occur, there should be appropriate procedures for informing the consumers thereof, improving the conditions of use and the features of the products or withdrawing them from the market. Pursuant to Council Decision 81/623/EEC of 23 July 1981 (Official Journal No L 229 of 13.8.1981), the Commission and the Member States carried out a 30-month pilot experiment relating to a Community system of information on accidents involving products outside the spheres of occupational activities and road traffic. This experiment showed the feasibility of collecting information primarily from hospitals and secondarily from other sources.

As a follow-up to the pilot experiment, the EHLASS demonstration project was designed to gather information on home and leisure accidents involving consumer products for which the victims received medical treatment at hospital. Industrial, road, rail, sea or air traffic accidents were not included. The basic information was obtained from the casualty departments of hospitals selected by the Member States in agreement with the Commission. Where appropriate, additional information could also be collected from the victims themselves and from alternative sources such as poison-antidote centres, family doctors, fire brigades, insurance bodies, consumer associations, manufacturers, research bodies and scientific associations.

At the start of the project it was estimated that, to be significant, the size of the Community sample should be between 400,000 and 900,000 accident cases per year, distributed in proportion to the respective populations of the Member States, and that for optimum operation of the system some 90 hospitals should take part. The 1990 revision reduced this number to 63 hospitals in eleven Member States (the Federal Republic of Germany's participation took the form of household surveys).

An independent analysis of the project (available from the Commission on request) was completed in June 1990. The results were found to have only illustrative value at Community level due to difficulties of implementation in certain Member States which led to disparities in data quality and quantity. A Communication from the Commission to the Council issued on 21 March 1991 aimed to clarify the procedures with regard to the implementation of the project.


- Collection and exploitation of data by the Member States;
- Work carried out by the Commission, including work on data collection methods and analytical reports, dissemination and exploitation at Community level of national results, and necessary additional studies.


The Commission was initially responsible "for the management of the project and the activities relating thereto, including the utilization of the information compiled" (Council Decision 86/138/EEC of 22.4.1986). Subsequently the Commission was called on to "ensure the coherency and the coordination of the project and its implementation by the Member States", whereas the latter were expected to "exploit directly the national data collected" and to submit annual reports to the Commission on the results obtained (Council Decision 90/534/EEC of 22.10.1990).

An Advisory Committee consisting of two representatives from each Member State and chaired by a Commission representative was consulted on matters relating to the setting up of the management of the project and on the interpretation and utilization of the information obtained.

Community financial support for the collection of data by the Member States was allocated at a standard rate representing 80% of the actual costs, up to a ceiling of ECU 35,000 per hospital per year. Provision was also made for a flat-rate Community financial support towards installation and starting-up costs amounting to ECU 20,000 per Member State during the first year of the introduction in that Member State of a system for collecting data from hospitals, and amounting to ECU 5,000 per hospital during the first year of that hospital's participation in the project. In addition, the 1990 revision provided for annual Community financial support of ECU 15,000 per Member State as a contribution towards the data-processing costs incurred at national level.

Information was collected, inter alia, on the type of accident, its causes and the place where it occurred; on the type of injury and the activity of the victim at the time of the accident; and on the main features and identifying details of the product involved. The Commission was required to determine the data collection methods to be used by the Member States, to draw up guidelines for the harmonization of the annual reports and to ensure that the results were exploited, summarized and disseminated at Community level.


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