UK government launches Office for Product Safety and Standards
The Office for Product Safety and Standards was launched on 21 January 2018 and has been established to identify risks and manage responses to large-scale product recalls and repairs.
Designed to strengthen the UK’s product safety regime, the new government office will provide support and advice for local authority Trading Standards teams and will take a co-ordinating role when action is needed on a national scale.
Commenting on the launch, business minister Andrew Griffiths, said: “The new Office for Product Safety and Standards will strengthen the UK's already tough product safety regime and will allow consumers to continue to buy, secure in the knowledge there is an effective system in place if products need to be repaired or replaced.”
The Office for Product Safety and Standards is part of the government’s response to the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety, a group of experts brought together to build on the recommendations of consumer champion Lynn Faulds Wood. Her independent review into product recalls was carried out after a number of high-profile fires caused by electrical appliances and took on even greater significance after the tragic events at Grenfell Tower. Martyn Allen, Technical Director of Electrical Safety First, which has lobbied for improvements to the UK product safety system, welcomed the introduction of this new government body which sits within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Since 2007 there have been 516 recall notices issued for electrical products in the UK but only 10-20 per cent of faulty goods are returned or repaired, leaving potentially millions of dangerous electrical goods in people’s homes. It is important to remember that the launch of this new government body will not lessen the legal responsibilities of manufacturers, importers and retailers to produce safe products for the market and their obligation to take swift and effective action when safety issues arise.
An important element in ensuring the safety of electrical products in particular is the cables that are used. Dr Jeremy Hodge from BASEC commented, “I would urge all manufacturers to ensure that the power cables and internal wiring they use has a quality mark such as BASEC’s which gives assurance all round that the cable has undergone stringent testing to all the relevant Standards. BASEC can offer independent 3rd party testing should manufacturers ever require additional checks.”