Gym equipment and other fitness products sold in the European Union are covered by the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). In short, it’s your responsibility as an importer or manufacturer to ensure that your fitness products are safe for consumers – which in turn may require lab testing, labelling, and documentation.
You may also need to take additional regulations into consideration, in case you import or manufacture electrical fitness equipment.
Do you need help with product compliance? (EU & US)
- Request a free consultation call today with Ivan Malloci to learn how we can help you with:
- Product Requirements Lists
- Product Certification
- Product & Packaging Labeling
- Lab Testing
General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) outlines general product safety requirements and applies to a wide range of products, including fitness products. It aims to ensure that consumer products are safe to use before they are placed on the market.
The GPSD establishes principles and a general framework that importers, manufacturers, and distributors can use to ensure product safety.
As said, the GPSD applies to many types of consumer products, including fitness equipment. As an example, the GPSD covers the following types of gym equipment:
- Parallel bars
- Asymmetric bars
- Vaulting boxes
- Horses and bucks
- Horizontal bars
- Wall bars, lattice ladders, and climbing frames
- Balancing beams
- Hanging rings
Harmonised standards provide a presumption of conformity with the technical requirements of the directive. If there aren’t any harmonised standards, the products can still be designed and tested against international and national standards.
Below we list several harmonised standards for gym equipment and stationary equipment.
Gym equipment standards
a. EN 913 – Gymnastic equipment – General safety requirements and test methods
b. EN 914 – Gymnastic equipment – Parallel bars and combination asymmetric/parallel bars – Requirements and test methods including safety
c. EN 915 – Gymnastic equipment – Asymmetric bars – Requirements and test methods including safety
d. EN 916 – Gymnastic equipment – Vaulting boxes – Requirements and test methods including safety
e. EN 12196 – Gymnastic equipment – Horses and bucks – Functional and safety requirements, test methods
f. EN 12197 – Gymnastic equipment – Horizontal bars – Functional and safety requirements, test methods
g. EN 12346 – Gymnastic equipment – Wall bars, lattice ladders and climbing frames – Safety requirements and test methods
h. EN 12432 – Gymnastic equipment – Balancing beams – Safety requirements and test methods
i. EN 12655 – Gymnastic equipment – Hanging rings – Functional and safety requirements, test methods
j. EN 13219 – Gymnastic equipment – Trampolines – Functional and safety requirements, test methods
Standards for stationary equipment
a. EN 957 – Stationary training equipment (Parts 1-2, Parts 4-10)
b. EN ISO 20957 – Stationary training equipment (Part 1, Parts 4-5, Parts 8-10)
Traceability labeling requirements
Products that fall under the scope of the GPSD should include a traceability label, which should contain information such as:
- Producer identity
- Producer address and contact information
- Product name
- Model or batch number
Additionally, according to Article 5 of the GPSD, producers should provide consumers with applicable information that can help them identify any inherent risks that may not be immediately obvious. Such information, including suggested precautions, can appear on warning labels attached to the relevant product.
Article 8 requires producers to clearly and comprehensibly mark their products with warnings about possible risks. These warnings should be provided in the official languages of the EU member state where the product is to be sold.
Products that fall under to scope of the directive might also require documentation such as:
- Technical file
- Risk assessment
- User instructions
Annex I of the GPSD lists several requirements concerning the information on products that do not comply with general safety requirements. According to it, in the event of any serious risks, the relevant authorities need to be notified with information that includes at least one of the following:
a. A precise identification of the product or batch of products in question
b. A full description of the risk that the products in question present
c. All available information relevant for tracing the product
d. A description of the action undertaken to prevent risks to consumers
Gymnastic equipment and stationary equipment should be safe to use. Therefore, these types of equipment should be lab tested against specific safety requirements and test methods to verify the safety of the aforementioned equipment.
Electrical Fitness Equipment
Treadmills and other electronic fitness equipment, including their AC adapters, must comply with electrical safety and EMC regulations. Here are a few examples of directives that might apply:
- Low Voltage Directive (LVD)
- EMC Directive
- RoHS Directive
- Radio Equipment Directive
Note that compliance with EU regulations cannot be taken for granted when importing fitness equipment manufactured overseas. Importers must either obtain test reports from the supplier, valid for the same stock keeping units (SKU) they intend to import or send a product sample for this-party lab testing.
The Machinery Directive applies to certain types of fitness products that utilize energy other than manual force to apply forces and control movement to perform an intended action, such as electric treadmills.
Here are some of the Directive’s requirements:
a. In case of a failure of the power supply, the parameters of the machinery must not change in an uncontrolled way
b. Control devices must be able to prevent and stop when a part of the machinery has been stopped, any drift away from the stopping position
c. For cable-less control, an automatic stop must be activated when correct control signals are not received, including loss of communication
The Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive specifies technical requirements that prevent electric and electronic devices from interrupting or interfering with each other via radiation or radio emissions.
The Directive covers equipment defined as “apparatus” or “fixed installation”, and this includes products such as treadmills and stationary fitness bicycles.
Low Voltage Directive
The Low Voltage Directive (LVD) aims to ensure that electronics are safe to use. The directive covers products that, under normal circumstances, operate with an input or output voltage of between:
- 50-1000 V for alternating currents
- 75-1500 V for direct current
For example, the LVD covers products like AC adaptors or treadmills.
The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive aims to restrict chemicals and heavy metals in electric and electronic products imported and manufactured in the European Union.
Annex I of the RoHS Directive lists electrical and electronic sports equipment as one of the categories of equipment covered by said Directive.
Radio Equipment Directive
The Radio Equipment Directive (RED) is a regulatory framework that aims at ensuring the safety and EMC compatibility of radio equipment operating at frequencies below 3,000 GHz. These types of equipment include devices with capabilities such as the following:
- Active RFID
The RED covers products such as:
- Wireless earphones
- Fitness trackers
Fitness products that fall under the scope of one or more CE directives and regulations must bear a CE marking, and comply with other CE marking requirements.
Declaration of Conformity (DoC)
Importers and manufacturers must provide a DoC supported by relevant test reports. Here is a general overview of the DoC content:
- Company name
- Company address
- Product name
- List of relevant harmonised standards (e.g EN 957-6)
- Details of signatory
The technical file is required to prove that the products were designed according to applicable standards and requirements. The technical file should include relevant design, materials, and more. Here is a general overview of the content included in the technical file:
- Bill of materials (e.g. List of all components in your treadmill machinery)
- Design drawings
- Label files
- Packaging files
- List of applied standards and directives (e.g. RoHS)
- Test reports
- Risk assessment
Lab testing of products is generally required to assess compliance when importing and manufacturing products in the EU, including fitness equipment. Below we list a few companies that offer testing services concerning fitness equipment:
- Bureau Veritas
- TÜV SÜD
REACH sets limits on certain hazardous substances in various products, including fitness products (e.g. coated equipment). Placing fitness products in the European market with above-limited substances is illegal.
Here are a few examples of regulated substances that can be found in fitness equipment:
Annex XVII of REACH lists numerous prohibited or restricted hazardous articles, mixtures, or substances that may be found in consumer products placed in the EU market.
Below we list a few examples of phthalates that have been restricted by Annex XVII:
- DEHP < 0.1% by weight
- DBP < 0.1% by weight
- BBP < 0.1% by weight
- DIBP < 0.1% by weight
Here are some examples of restricted heavy metals:
a. Lead and its compounds – restricted to a concentration of maximum 0.05% by weight
b. Cadmium and its compounds – restricted to a maximum concentration of 0.01% by weight (for plastics and metal; otherwise prohibited in products for food production and furniture, for example)
c. Chromium VI compounds – restricted to a maximum concentration of 0.0003% by weight (for leather)
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) are substances that may cause significant and irreversible consequences for the environment and human health.
The EU provides a list of SVHC for importers or manufacturers to check whether the materials of their products are compliant with REACH.
Although products containing SVHC are not illegal, importers and manufacturers are required to register these via the SCIP database if they contain an amount of SVHCs greater than 0.1% by weight. Consumers should also be notified, upon request
Importers and manufacturers can get help from testing companies such as SGS or QIMA, to test their products against REACH requirements. They provide comprehensive testing services for REACH compliance including conformity assessment, lab testing, and certification.
We suggest that you book the lab testing before production, and instruct your supplier about REACH compliance at the early stages.
Here are some companies offering REACH compliance testing:
- C&K Testing
- Bureau Veritas
You can find more details about REACH testing companies in this guide.
Some materials, coatings, paints and print inks used when manufacturing fitness products may contain excessive amounts of restricted chemicals and heavy metals. It’s therefore important to instruct your supplier to only use REACH-compliant materials when manufacturing your product.
Directive 94/62/EC: Packaging Regulations
When importing fitness products to the European Union, importers also need to comply with the packaging compliance requirements under Directive 94/62/EC. Here is an overview.
Heavy metals restrictions
Heavy metals (e.g. Hg, Pb, Cr6+, Cd) are regulated under the directive 94/62/EC. They need to ensure only to use compliant packaging material for their fitness products.
Packaging material verification requires certain specialists and equipment, therefore, we suggest that you shall book packaging tests from a testing company.
Extended Product Responsibility (EPR)
Extended Product Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy tool that extends a producer’s (and importer’s and manufacturer’s) financial and operational responsibility for products and packaging past the post-consumer stage.
In practice, this requires businesses to pay a fee to national EPR organizations to collect and process their packaging. This requirement shifts the financial responsibility away from governments and makes producers hold themselves accountable for managing their packaging waste.
Below we list various EPR organisations in the EU, examples of their services, and their headquarters addresses.
Der Grüne Punkt (Germany)
- Take-back systems and services
- Sales packaging recycling
- Electronics sorting and collection
- Packaging collection, disposal, and recycling
- Providing membership certificate
- Packaging collection and recycling
- Communicating with customers about their contributions and commitments to Citeo
- Interpretation of relevant packaging and recycling regulations
- Study entrepreneurial solutions
- Resources for packaging reduction and design
- Packaging recycling and collection
- Free advice
- Transparent agreements
- Packaging traceability
Afvalfonds Verpakkingen (Netherlands)
- Packaging collection and recycling
- Submit an annual report to Ministry about consistently meeting their national recycling targets