Published on February 15th, 2018 | by The GC Team1
“Get unsafe products out of people’s homes”, demands Which?
Consumer body Which? has written to ministers giving them 90 days to publish an action plan for the new Office for Product Safety and Standards, launched last month.
The move coincides with the “consumer champion’s” publication of figures showing that faulty white goods such as washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge freezers are the cause of more than 60 house fires a week.
The new analysis, looking at fire data obtained through Freedom of Information requests, reveals that the number of fires has stayed at a similar level for five years, with malfunctioning kitchen appliances reportedly causing close to 16,000 “potentially deadly fires” across the UK since 1 April 2012.
The Freedom of Information data was gathered from the organisations responsible for collating UK fire statistics: the Home Office, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Welsh and Northern Irish governments. The data Which? received revealed the number of fires that were deemed to have been caused by household appliances or appliance leads between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.
Which? said it believes Government action to keep potentially dangerous goods out of people’s homes falls “woefully short” of what is needed.
The organisation said the action plan for the new Office for Product Safety and Standards “must set out both the true scale of the product safety risks that we face in the UK and the immediate steps that the Office will take to avert further devastating fires. The plan must also include the action that the Office will take to remove the remaining one million fire risk Whirlpool tumble dryers from people’s homes.”
The move forms part of Which?’s new campaign to ‘End Dangerous Products’, launched today, calling for fundamental reform of the UK’s antiquated product safety regime to keep dangerous products out of homes.
The campaign also demands that manufacturers and retailers immediately remove unsafe products from the market and consumers’ homes.
Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? CEO, said: “It’s shocking that there are more than 60 house fires every week in the UK because of faulty appliances. People will undoubtedly be worried to hear our findings that some of the most common household appliances represent a disproportionate risk of causing a fire due to being faulty.
“The Government must now publish an action plan for the Office of Product Safety and Standards in the next 90 days, setting out what it will do to keep dangerous products out of consumers’ homes and tackle Britain’s broken product safety regime.”
The data analysis published by Which? shows faulty washing machines and tumble dryers to be the most high-risk appliances, causing more than a third of fires (35%) between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016. Other high-risk appliances for the same period include cookers and ovens (11%), dishwashers (10%) and fridges, freezers and fridge freezers (8%).
The figures also reveal a number of brands that cause concern, including Beko, Hoover, Haier and Whirlpool-owned Hotpoint and Indesit.
Which? carried out an extensive analysis of the data, which it has published on its website, but conceded that a number of brands have questioned the reliability of the statistics, pointing to the lack of forensic certainty.
The organisation said in a statement: “The fire officer records the most likely cause of the fire in their professional opinion, based on information available to them at the time. The cause is not forensically investigated and it therefore cannot be considered as definitive or certain.”