Campaigning charity Electrical Safety First has welcomed an announcement from Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson that consumer campaigner Lynn Faulds Wood will lead a review of the UK’s system for the recall of unsafe products.
Electrical Safety First director general Phil Buckle commented: “Faulty electrical products pose a real threat to consumers, their families and their property, so we are delighted that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced this independent review of the recall system.
“Not only does it demonstrate that the Government is committed to improving recall effectiveness, we also hope that it highlights the issue of recalls more generally. With current success rates for recalls of faulty electrical products being as low as 10% – 20%, consumers, manufacturers and authorities need to face up to the dangers of an ineffective recall system. And work together in order to improve it. We hope this announcement is the first step towards achieving this.”
Fire safety hot on the agenda
The commendation from Electrical Safety First comes as the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has called on manufacturers to improve product safety in the light of the statistic that it deals with more than one fridge freezer fire a week in London.
Despite seven deaths and 71 serious injuries in London since 2010, the LFB says that it believes most manufacturers are still ‘dragging their heels’ on making fire safety improvements.
LFB adds that fridges and freezers are of particular concern because they contain large amounts of plastic and highly flammable insulation, which, if ignited, can cause large, rapidly developing fires that spread quickly, giving off highly toxic gases.
The doors and side panels of most fridges and freezers are usually covered in metal but LFB is concerned that many still use a flammable plastic backing which offers very little protection against the highly flammable insulation catching alight if a fire starts.
London Fire Brigade deputy commissioner Rita Dexter said: “Every home has a fridge or freezer and the chances are it will be plugged in and working safely for years but it is no exaggeration to say that they are potentially the most dangerous household appliances if they are involved in a fire.
“They contain large amounts of highly flammable foam insulation, often only protected by a thin plastic covering. This can be a recipe for disaster if a fault occurs or if a fire spreads from somewhere else to the fridge or freezer. They are also one of the few electrical items in your home to be always left on and these fires pose an even greater risk if they start when people are sleeping.
“Putting a simple non-combustible or fire retardant covering at the back of appliances is a relatively simple change that manufacturers can make and one that we believe would reduce the number of injuries, and potentially deaths, caused by fires involving fridges and freezers.”