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Committee makes recommendations for safety of electrical goods

Tuesday 16 January 2018

A new report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has looked in to the safety of electrical goods, following their identification as to the cause of several recent high-profile fires.

The number of fires caused by faulty white-goods each year has remained persistently high, and with multiple news-worthy blazes, such as Grenfell and Shepherd’s Bush Green, the committee decided to look at the safety of electrical goods to determine the adequacy of the existing system of product safety in the UK.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy report branded the Government as 'painfully slow' in improving a product safety regime, despite a widely-supported set of recommendations made by Lynn Faulds Wood's independent review into consumer product recalls, which was published nearly two years ago. As a result, the Committee recommended that the Government publish a full response to the Faulds Wood Review by the end of February 2018.

The Committee found the restrictions of the existing system to be evident by the manufacturer Whirlpool’s response to a defect in its tumble dryers. There are still one million potentially faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers in homes more than two years after the identification of a defect that has led to at least 750 fires since 2004, which the Committee deems to be ‘unacceptable’. The Committee is calling on Whirlpool to now resolve the risk from faulty machines within two weeks of being contacted by costumers.

The flaws in the UK’s existing safety regime must now be given serious consideration by the Government, with a view to establishing a single national product safety agency.

The report recommends:

  • Whirlpool must explain how it will deal with the remaining defective and potentially dangerous machines with resolution for all customers within two weeks of contacting the company.
  • Manufacturers should make available risk assessments as soon as any defects are identified.
  • Progress on improving safety is slow - the Government must publish a full response to the 2016 Faulds Wood Review on the UK’s system for the recall of unsafe products by the end of February 2018 at the latest.
  • The Government should actively explore the establishment of a single national product safety agency.
  • Manufacturers of plastic backed fridge freezers should act to use safer materials, based on the number of fires associated with them.

Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said:

"Whirlpool’s woeful response to the defect in its tumble dryers has caused huge worry to people with these appliances in their homes. Their delayed and dismissive response to correcting these defects has been inadequate and we call on Whirlpool to resolve issues urgently. Whirlpool must once and for all put an end to the unacceptable situation where a million machines are acting as potential fire hazards in people’s homes.

These problems go deeper than just one firm. Whirlpool’s response has highlighted flaws in the UK’s product safety regime which is fragmented and poorly resourced. There is a strong case for a single national product safety agency. The Government must now implement the recommendations of an independent review on product safety, which they have been sitting on for nearly two years."