Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
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RLA welcomes changes on product safety – but do they go far enough?

News that the Government is creating a new Office for Product Safety and Standards has been welcomed by the RLA.

The announcement comes seven months after the Grenfell Tower blaze, believed to have been started by a Hotpoint fridge-freezer, which killed at least 71 people.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards, which will have a budget of £12m a year, will cover non-food consumer product safety and will begin operating immediately.

The Government says the new office will further enhance the UKs ‘world-leading product safety system’ and give consumers the ‘highest ever levels of protection’.

But does it go far enough?

Under the plans the new oversight body will ‘identify consumer risks and manage responses’ to large-scale product recalls and repairs’.

These would be likely to include issues such as the high profile safety notices announced regarding faulty Whirlpool dryers, which were blamed for a number of UK fires, including  a fatal blaze in Wales.

The Government said the office will support local authority Trading Standards teams, coordinate local support to national issues and carry out border checks on imported goods post-Brexit.

It says other actions as part of the government’s response to the working group include:

  • working with the British Standards Institution to provide guidance on product recalls and corrective action
  • conducting research to help manufacturers and retailers develop technological solutions to product marking and identification
  • increasing the reach of Primary Authority to further share BEIS expertise to help protect consumers
  • researching consumer behaviour to identify the best way to drive up the number of consumers registering appliances with manufacturers
  • creating an expert panel to bring together trade associations, consumer and enforcement representatives to advise on product safety issues as they arise

While bodies such as RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) have welcomed the changes, others, such as consumer charity Which? say an independent body is needed.

Alex Neill, Managing Director of Which? Home Products and Services, said: “The Government has finally accepted that the UK’s product safety system needs to be fixed, but this action falls short of the full overhaul it so desperately needs.

“Consumers need an independent national body which has real powers to protect them and get dangerous products out of their homes. Failure to do so continues the risk of further tragic consequences.”

Chris Town, RLA Vice chair said: “We welcome any moves that will improve product safety across the board and will be monitoring the work of the new body.”

The RLA is backing London Fire Brigade’s Total Recalls Campaign, which is asking for a single, publicly accessible register of product recalls as well as other changes to manufacturing and communication methods.

For more information on white goods safety in your rental homes click here.

The RLA has recently updated its fire safety guidance and is offering online and classroom fire safety training courses. For more information and to book click here.


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