Safe and sustainable products: the message from this year’s ESF Product Safety Conference

Focusing on the evolution of product safety during a time of rapid change, the 12th annual Product Safety Conference from Electrical Safety First – entitled A Sustainable Future – highlighted how today’s products must not only be safe to use but also cyber-secure and sustainable.

Hosted over two mornings this week, the first part of the conference reviewed the relationships between sustainable products, the product lifecycle and the circular economy.

In a COVID-enhanced awareness of the climate crisis, governments are increasingly interested in the circular economy, which emphasises sustainability and safety in the product lifecycle. This was the theme of the keynote speech by Libby Peake, Head of Resource Policy, Green Alliance, the environmental think tank and charity.

Other speakers on day one included Paul Scully, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Graham Russell, CEO of the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

Day two focussed on creative products and emerging tech, exploring the potential ‘standards gap’ for new products, and security and safety issues arising from a smart home.

ERT Editor, Jack Cheeseman, hosted a series of interviews around IoT-enabled smart systems and devices and how developers and regulators need to be aware of the potential issues around cyber security, interoperability and potential risks to consumer safety.

The interviewees were Alan Sellers, Senior Compliance and Approvals Manager, Dyson Technology, Kevin Sweeney, Director of Assurance at Intertek, and Julie Hunter, Chair of the Consumer and Public Interest Network at BSI.

One highlight of the second day, however, was the announcement of the winner of Electrical Safety First’s Safety Innovation Award – the E-Bulb from JOB. Described as the smallest fire extinguisher in the world, its unique device-integrated fire protection means that a fire can be stopped at source, within the product itself, before it becomes visible – or spreads.

“Our objective in establishing this award was to recognise those who place safety at the heart of product development,” explained Lesley Rudd, CEO of Electrical Safety First. “Additionally – and of particular importance during this time of unprecedented change – we wanted to encourage sustainability and innovation. All these qualities are clearly shown by this year’s worthy winner, which offers a clear opportunity to improve product safety and reduce domestic electrical fires. We warmly congratulate JOB on receiving this award.”

Attracting over 200 people, this high profile conference brought together representatives from throughout the electrical retail supply chain, and beyond. Delegates ranged from government departments, manufacturers, retailers and importers, to lawyers, test houses and fire and rescue services – as well as Trading Standards and safety professionals.