ESF slams safety recall system as ‘not fit for purpose’

Electrical Safety First (ESF) has criticised the current safety recall system as “not fit for purpose”.

Following a number of recent, high-profile domestic appliance safety notices, Martyn Allen (pictured), head of electro-technical at ESF, claimed that the increasing complexity of the supply chain was creating “significant traceability issues” and was failing both consumers and businesses.

However, he stated that the UK in general had a good safety record when it came to faulty appliances.

“To address the lack of awareness around recalls, we have run a number of consumer and stakeholder campaigns around the benefits of registering electrical products,” said Mr Allen. “We are also members of the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety. This body, which replaces the original steering group – established in response to Lynn Faulds Wood’s Review of the Recall of Unsafe Products – is currently developing recommendations for a recall code of practice, expected by the end of 2017.”

However, he believed that anyone involved in the supply chain had a responsibility for ensuring the safety of products placed on the UK market.

“The overall responsibility for this is, of course, with manufacturers,” he added. “However, it should be noted that retailers importing goods and labelling them with their own brand, are regarded as manufacturers, with corresponding legal and safety obligations – including those around recalled items.”

Mr Allen went on to argue that a retailers’ direct relationship with consumers gives them a key opportunity to improve product safety by encouraging them to register appliances, either at point-of-sale or via Amdea’s Register My Appliance website.

He also suggested that if retailers came across a repeated problem with a product, they should report this to the manufacturer, as it is unlikely to be limited to a single location. If there is no response from the manufacturer, an issue should then be reported to Trading Standards.

However, he concluded that more still needed to be done to set out clearer guidelines on when a fault with an appliance becomes a safety issue.

“But when does it become apparent that a safety issue due to a design or technical problem, rather than misuse, needs to be reported to the authorities – after 10 reported incidents or 100?” Mr Allen asked. “The new Low Voltage Directive and the General Product Safety Directive covers this but neither provides specific details.”