COMMONS

Urgent action needed over ongoing risk from faulty electrical goods

16 January 2018

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy report says urgent action is needed from Whirlpool to remove the danger posed by one million defective and potentially dangerous tumble dryers across the country.

Government response has been 'painfully slow'

The report also finds that the Government has been 'painfully slow' in improving a product safety regime which is fragmented and poorly resourced.

The Committee finds it 'unacceptable' that there are still one million defective Whirlpool tumble dryers in homes more than two years after the identification of a defect that has led to at least 750 fires since 2004. The Committee is calling on Whirlpool to now resolve the risk from faulty machines within two weeks of being contacted by costumers.

The Committee finds Whirlpool’s inadequate response to the defect highlights the flaws in the UK’s safety regime and that serious consideration must now be given by the Government to establishing a single national product safety agency. The Committee also calls on the Government to respond by the end of February to the recommendations of an independent review on product safety, carried out by Lynn Faulds Wood, nearly two years ago.

Recommendations

The report recommends:

  • Whirlpool must explain how it will deal with the remaining defective and potentially dangerous machines with resolution for all customers within two weeks of contacting the company.
  • Manufacturers should make available risk assessments as soon as any defects are identified.
  • Progress on improving safety is 'painfully slow'—the Government must publish a full response to the 2016 Faulds Wood Review on the UK’s system for the recall of unsafe products by the end of February 2018 at the latest.
  • The Government should actively explore the establishment of a single national product safety agency.
  • Manufacturers of plastic backed fridge freezers should act to use safer materials, based on the number of fires associated with them.

Chair's comments

Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said:

"Whirlpool’s woeful response to the defect in its tumble dryers has caused huge worry to people with these appliances in their homes. Their delayed and dismissive response to correcting these defects has been inadequate and we call on Whirlpool to resolve issues urgently. Whirlpool must once and for all put an end to the unacceptable situation where a million machines are acting as potential fire hazards in people’s homes.

These problems go deeper than just one firm. Whirlpool’s response has highlighted flaws in the UK’s product safety regime which is fragmented and poorly resourced. There is a strong case for a single national product safety agency. The Government must now implement the recommendations of an independent review on product safety, which they have been sitting on for nearly two years."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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