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Published on June 12th, 2019 | by The GC Team

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Whirlpool given ten days to respond to Government’s product recall warning

In a Government move which has been described by business minister Kelly Tolhurst as “unprecedented action,” the Government has written to Whirlpool saying it will require the manufacturer to recall all unmodified Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit, Proline and Swan tumble dryers involved in the fire safety warning first issued by Whirlpool some four years ago.

It is estimated that, of the 5.3 million dryers sold in the UK, up to half a million could still be in use. The fault, which may allow lint and fluff to come into contact with the heating element and catch fire, has been blamed for “at least” 750 fires over eleven years, according to Government sources. Whirlpool has been working to inform consumers and to perform a modification on the affected dryers, but in an exchange during “Topical Questions” in the Commons yesterday, it has emerged that the Government has now begun a process to require Whirlpool to recall all faulty dryers. The question and answer, as reported in Hansard, were as follows:

Conservative minister Andrew Griffiths: “The Office for Product Safety and Standards undertook a thorough review of the modification of Whirlpool tumble dryers. However, there still remain great concerns about not only the straightness of Whirlpool, but whether people have unsafe products in their homes. Can the Minister update us on what is happening in relation to Whirlpool?”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Kelly Tolhurst): “I recognise the key role that my hon. Friend played in instigating the review when he was in post. Consumer safety is a Government priority and I assure him that we have kept Whirlpool’s action under review. I can tell the House that we have informed Whirlpool of our intention to serve a recall notice as the next step of the regulatory process. This is unprecedented action.”

Whirlpool now has ten days in which to respond to the Government. The company has several choices of action, including instigation of a voluntary recall or a request for review by an independent arbitrator, but at this stage Whirlpool has given no clear indication of its next move.

The company did say, in a statement issued by Whirlpool Corporation through a spokesperson: “Safety is our number one priority and we remain committed to resolving any affected tumble dryers that have not yet been modified.

“To this end, we are in ongoing discussions with the Office for Product Safety and Standards to agree additional measures we have proposed to reach consumers who have not yet engaged with this safety programme.

“We have co-operated with OPSS throughout its recent review of the programme and welcome its findings that consumers whose tumble dryers have been modified can continue to use them safely.

“The crucial message to anyone who still owns an affected dryer and has not already had it modified by Whirlpool is to contact us immediately on 0800 151 0905.

“In the meantime, anyone with an affected dryer that has not been modified should unplug it and not use it until the modification has been completed.”

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said: “The Brigade welcomes the news that a recall notice is to be issued for up to 500,000 Whirlpool tumble dryers which pose a fire safety risk. 

“We first asked Whirlpool to change its advice to consumers more than three years ago so we are pleased the Government has now stepped in to ensure potentially dangerous white goods are urgently removed from people’s homes.

“Our Total Recalls campaign has led the way in championing the call to make white goods safer by reducing the risk of fire and trying to improve both the information that is made available and level of transparency on safety matters for the consumer.” 

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