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Published on January 16th, 2018 | by The GC Team


Electrical product safety goes “deeper than just one firm”

A House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report has criticised both Whirlpool, some of whose Hotpoint tumble dryers are implicated in household fires caused by a defect, and the Government, which has been “painfully slow” in improving a product safety regime which is “fragmented and poorly resourced.”

Commenting on the Report on its official website, The Committee says it finds it “unacceptable that there are still one million defective 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.

“The Committee is calling on Whirlpool to now resolve the risk from faulty machines within two weeks of being contacted by costumers.

“The Committee finds Whirlpool’s inadequate response to the defect highlights the flaws in the UK’s safety regime and that serious consideration must now be given by the Government to establishing a single national product safety agency. The Committee also calls on the Government to respond by the end of February to the recommendations of an independent review on product safety, carried out by Lynn Faulds Wood, nearly two years ago.”

Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “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,” but added that “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.”

A spokesman for the company said: “Whirlpool’s extensive ongoing tumble dryer modification campaign has achieved a resolution rate more than three times the industry average for a product recall,” and added that 1.7 million affected tumble dryers had been replaced or repaired, four million customers had been contacted directly, and the number of people contacting the company after the two-year awareness campaign had now fallen sharply.

“We continue to urge consumers to contact us immediately if they believe they still own an affected appliance. We can assure consumers that if they contact us now, they can receive a resolution within one week.”

  • The Report’s recommendations include:
  • 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
  • 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

A Government Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy spokesman promised a swift response to the recommendation of a national product safety authority, and added: “We have already taken a number of steps to improve our product safety regime, including upgrading the Government’s recalls website to make it clear to the public which white goods are safe to use.”

Whirlpool freephone helplines: 0800 151 0905 in the UK and 1800 804320 in the Irish Republic

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Get Connected is the top trade journal for the UK electricals industry. Its website is the fastest, most interesting and up to date in the business.

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