Safety must come first when it comes to electrical appliances

Which? tackles defective goods by ensuring that people are protected and faulty products are taken out of their homes.
Which? tackles defective goods by ensuring that people are protected and faulty products are taken out of their homes.
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I've written before about our campaign at Which? to ensure consumers are better protected from unsafe products.

It really is what we’re all about – tackling defective goods by ensuring that people are protected and faulty products are taken out of people’s homes.

For instance, you may remember the Whirlpool tumble dryer case.

Tumble dryer models from Hotpoint, Swan, Creda, Proline and Indesit were a cause for concern due to the fire risk they posed and the woeful response from Whirlpool in the early days of the safety notice.

They were linked to some 750 house fires and an investigation by London Fire Brigade into an 18-storey tower block in Shepherd’s Bush pointed the finger firmly at one of these appliances.

We eventually had to threaten legal action against Peterborough City Council (the Trading Standards Service where Whirlpool is headquartered) to ensure that appropriate action was being taken against the company for its failure to act quickly enough to protect people’s safety.

What the case highlighted again, is that the UK’s recall system for faulty products is not fit-for-purpose and is potentially putting people’s lives at risk.

The system shouldn’t have to rely on organisations like us to threaten legal action in order to ensure consumers are adequately protected.

And the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could also place even more pressure on an already fragmented system.

So we’re calling for urgent changes, including the establishment of a national body that can take control of dangerous situations when they arise and get products out of people’s homes quickly.

And we want to see a ‘one-stopshop’ information website on product recalls before tragedy strikes.

We believe that the government has been slow to respond to serious incidents and subsequent reviews in the past and a lack of resources for local trading standards bodies hasn’t helped.

Indeed they’ve lost more than half of their full-time staff since 2009.

Added to that the over-reliance on manufacturers to self-check the safety of their products, and it’s all very worrying.

A new national body with responsibility for product safety and recalls and with the proper resources, is urgently needed.

The government must act. And act quickly.

* Remember to email me your consumer queries: askalex@which.co.uk