Government calls for help over safety recalls

The Government announced today that it is calling on manufacturers to join a steering group to help improve product safety recalls, following an extensive review by consumer campaigner Lynn Faulds Wood.

The review was set in motion by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “People rightly deserve the assurance that if they buy a product that turns out to be unsafe, this can quickly be rectified. The Government places a very high value on consumer safety, but industry also has a crucial role to play in protecting consumers.

“I am keen that businesses work together to provide the solutions and improve the systems so we can reduce the number of incidents and keep people safe.”

The Government also announced it will support the development of a business-led online ‘centre of excellence’. The website will communicate information to consumers and allow companies to share best practice and ideas based on past experience in managing recalls.

Commenting on the move, Ms Faulds Wood said: “I welcome the news that my review and the government response is to be published today. I look forward to hearing about the development of a steering group to take my recommendations forward and very much hope that my involvement in this important area can be continued.”

White-goods manufacturers association Amdea welcomed the initiative and has pledged its support. It said that the report backs Amdea’s beliefs that information sharing and good ownership data are crucial to ensure that vital safety news reaches the people who need to know and act on recall advice.

Amdea chief executive Douglas Herbison (pictured) said: “Product safety is paramount to all Amdea members, who have wholeheartedly backed our Register My Appliance initiative since its launch last year. In setting up Register My Appliance, engaging with our members, the public, consumer groups, market surveillance agencies and Government, we have gained invaluable insights, which we look forward to sharing. We see that Lynn Faulds Wood says in the foreword to her report that most unsafe products are often linked to counterfeiting and come into the country via cost-cutting suppliers. Any mechanism set up resulting from this review needs to address this issue, too.”

Phil Buckle, director general of Electrical Safety First
Phil Buckle, director general of Electrical Safety First

Electrical Safety First has also expressed support for the proposal, as director-general Phil Buckle said: “We are delighted this long-awaited review has finally been published and offers recommendations we have long called for. Electrical Safety First has been raising awareness of the safety issues presented by dangerous recalled electrical goods – millions of which still exist in UK homes – for several years. We fully support the review’s primary call for a method of coordinating the recall system – and for better sharing of information by the industry, which is something our annual product safety conferences have consistently highlighted.

“We would hope that our expertise in recalls and consumer protection would be of value to this enterprise. However, as the review itself makes clear, without an effective and properly resourced market surveillance and enforcement system, both consumer safety and business reputations are being put at risk.”

Commenting on the move, Howard Saycell, chief executive of electrical retailers association Retra, told ERT: “Retra welcomes this review. Anything that leads to higher levels of safety in our industry is to be applauded. We will be happy to contribute to the steering group.”

The Minister added: “The Government cannot act alone. Everyone with an interest in the recall system needs to play their part and we will work to oversee and support this.”

Earlier this month, Whirlpool was in the news after newspaper reports of a house fire in Surrey, which was believed to have been caused by a faulty Indesit tumble-dryer.

Following this, Whirlpool, owner of the Indesit brand, announced it was stepping up efforts to contact 3.4 million customers to repair the faulty Indesit, Hotpoint and Creda dryers.