Call for action plan to get faulty white goods out of homes
Faulty white goods are causing more than 60 house fires a week, an investigation by Which? found.
Government action to get faulty and potentially dangerous white goods out of homes is falling “woefully short”, a consumer group has claimed.
Faulty white goods such as washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge freezers are causing more than 60 house fires a week, a figure that has remained “stubbornly high” for at least five years, an investigation by Which? found.
Fire data obtained by the watchdog through Freedom of Information requests shows faulty washing machines and tumble dryers to be the most high-risk appliances, causing 35% of fires between April 1 2014 and March 31 2016.
Other high-risk appliances for the same period include cookers and ovens, which caused 11% of fires, dishwashers (10%) and fridges, freezers and fridge freezers (8%).
This week, Which? wrote to ministers giving them 90 days to publish an action plan for the new Office for Product Safety and Standards, launched last month.
Which? wants the action plan to set out the “true scale” of product safety risks in the UK and the “immediate steps” that the Office will take to prevent further fires, including the action it will take to remove an estimated one million faulty Whirlpool-made tumble dryers that remain in people’s homes.
Last month a House of Commons committee urged Whirlpool to take “urgent action” to resolve the problem that has led to at least 750 fires since 2004.
The inquiry into risks from faulty electrical items was triggered by last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy when 71 people died in a fire believed to have been started by a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer.
The Which? letter to ministers is part of a new campaign by the group calling for “fundamental reform of the UK’s antiquated product safety regime to keep dangerous products out of our homes”, and includes the demand that manufacturers and retailers immediately remove unsafe products from the market and households.
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: “It’s shocking that there are more than 60 house fires every week in the UK because of faulty appliances.
“People will undoubtedly be worried to hear our findings that some of the most common household appliances represent a disproportionate risk of causing a fire due to being faulty.
“The Government must now publish an action plan for the Office of Product Safety and Standards in the next 90 days, setting out what it will do to keep dangerous products out of consumers’ homes and tackle Britain’s broken product safety regime.”
Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “It’s essential that consumers have access to as much information as possible, and we would urge the Office for Product Safety and Standards to create an easily accessible, comprehensive database of recalled products.
“This would enable consumers to get as full a picture as possible about the safety of the products they are buying, and should be supported by all manufacturers.”
A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “The Government’s top priority is to keep people safe, which is why last month we set out our approach to further strengthen the UK’s already tough product safety system.
“This included creating the new Office for Product Safety and Standards which will help better identify consumer risks and manage responses to large-scale product recalls and repairs.”
BEIS committee chairwoman Rachel Reeves said: “Our report on electrical goods safety also highlighted the unacceptable number of fires and the need for a single point of registration for products.
“Although we focused on tumble dryers and fridges, these worrying findings from Which? show washing machines, cookers and dishwashers can be equally lethal in people’s homes.
“While we welcomed the decision to establish an Office for Product Safety and Standards, we agree the Government must make sure it has real teeth and ensure it leads to more people registering their products, a better recall regime and ultimately a reduction in the number of fires that blight so many homes and put lives at risk.”