Why are we still waiting for protection against dangerous products as millions sit in homes around the UK?

Hundreds of electrical gadgets have been recalled in recent years, including a total of 61 in 2016. Manufacturers rely on customers registering their details when they buy an item. If they don’t, there is no direct way to contact a customer and many find out about unsafe items by reading about it in the media.

Worryingly, only 10 to 20 per cent of items that are recalled are ever returned or repaired, according to Electrical Safety First. It means that potentially millions of recalled and unsafe electrical items are still being used in homes around the UK.

HOW TO CHECK IF AN APPLIANCE IS FAULTY

  • A tool by Electrical Safety First allows you to check if your appliance has been recalled since 2007.
  • The Chartered Institute of Trading Standards has a list of recent product recalls on its site.
  • You should also register your details with a manufacturer as soon as you buy an item.

You can do this directly or register with the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances service and they will tell you when a product is recalled or a safety alert is issued.

Today, the government was slammed for its painfully slow response to improve product safety. It is off the back of a review in to faulty electrical goods sparked by the modification of over 4 million Whirlpool tumble dryers, of which, only 1.9 million have been fixed or replaced. Whirlpool hasn’t done anything wrong. If anything, it has followed the rules very closely.

This includes initially telling customers to continue to use machines with faults. This advice continued, despite issuing a different warning to those in Australia with exactly the same appliances and defect. It wasn’t until significant pressure was applied by the London Fire Brigade, Electrical Safety First, Which? and the media that Whirlpool changed this advice – some 15 months later.

But it’s not just tumble dryers which pose a risk, it’s washing machines and fridges – like the one which the police have confirmed started the fire at Grenfell Tower. The West London tower block where 71 people lost their lives. It’s suspected that a fault in a fridge freezer started the blaze which then spread up the the outside of the 24-storey building, due to low-cost cladding. 

Consumer group Which? has also continually called on the government to fix the broken product safety system. It has also warned that nearly half of fridges and freezer in homes around the UK could be a fire risk. An official review of the recall system by Lynn Faulds Woods two years ago called for a new body to coordinate safety recalls and a need for an official website with a recalls list in one place.

But since the publication of the report, nothing has changed. So how much longer will we have to wait? Enough is enough.