trade comment

Taking the issue seriously M

Electrical Safety First head of the electrotechnical division Martyn Allen highlights increasing action on product safety

any in the industry were disappointed by the government’s limited response to

Lynn Faulds Wood’s independent Review of the UK’s System for the Recall of Unsafe Products. However, it looks as if a sea change is coming. The revamped Working Group on Product

Recalls and Safety (of which Electrical Safety First is a member and which replaced the initial Recall Review Steering Group) has been asked to provide recommendations to develop a recall code of practice by the end of 2017. If a recent court case is anything to go

by, it does seem as if the issue of dangerous consumer products is starting to be properly recognised in the courts. The prosecution of a major high street

retailer for selling unsafe smartphone charger kits has led to it being given a record-breaking fine of £166,000, plus an additional £24,000 in costs. While current legislation allows for an unlimited fine and/or a custodial sentence of up to three months, the penalties imposed have usually been considerably less than the previous limit of £5,000. The case, brought by Carmarthenshire

council, found the retailer had failed to comply with electrical safety regulations. The charger kits – of which 72,000 are known to have been

sold in the UK – included adaptors lacking adequate insulation between circuits and loose wiring, which increased the risk of fire or electric shock. Although it was claimed that due diligence on the kits had been undertaken at an independent laboratory in China, it was revealed that the products had not been tested and the safety certificates provided by the laboratory were forged. Given that no injury or accidents relating to the

charger kits had been reported, it is particularly interesting that this significant fine was imposed, as it clearly recognises the potential risk – as opposed to actual harm - to consumers. There has also been a growing awareness of the dangers of unsafe electrical products within Parliament, initially prompted by the fire in a block of London flats which was caused by a faulty tumble dryer. This was followed by an Early Day Motion put forward by Andy Slaughter MP, which called on the Government to address the inadequacies of the product recall system and the potential fire risk posed by some white goods. In the House of Lords, Lord Kennedy of Southwark has also recently raised the issue of improving product recalls and manufacturing standards for white goods. I should also mention that the EU’s Low Voltage

Directive was finally transposed into UK law as the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations

2016, coming into effect on December 8 2016. Aiming to clarify the responsibilities of all economic operators in the supply chain – from manufacturers and importers to distributors and retailers – it offers more detail on the level of due diligence required. The regulations also highlight the importance of shared communication, with manufacturers and importers now required to ensure that distributors and retailers are told of any product monitoring being undertaken. However, some concerns around product safety processes and systems remain. Of course, much of this increased interest has been fanned by a continuing slew of media headlines around dangerous electrical consumer goods. It is now obvious that this is an issue that isn’t going to disappear, nor should it. It is no longer enough for the industry to say they are taking the issue seriously - it must be seen to be doing so.

Electrical Safety First has developed a range of consultancy services to advise businesses on best practice procedures, to help ensure that the electrical products they manufacture, import and sell, meet relevant legislation and are safe for consumer use. For more information, contact: martyn.allen@

Time pressures hot up the health trend

Electrical retailing should note the latest food trend, slow cooking, says British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) home enhancement director Will Jones


year ago, I was welcoming the good news that Britain’s love affair with food was expanding from purely

baking to the processing of superfoods, with all the incremental income opportunities that both these trends can deliver in terms of selling small electrical kitchen gadgets. Following the potential of the multichef and the food processor, the last two years have therefore seen retailers discover the possibilities of the juicer and the blender, with sales rising by quadruple digit percentages and price tags for top of the range models topping the £600 mark. A year on and we have by no means seen the back of the juicing and blending of smoothies and soups and I predict that these trends will stick around as a lucrative earner

February 2017

for a good while yet as they work their way through the mass market. But better still we are now set to reap the benefits of ‘the next big thing’ in food preparation – the slow cooker. And it is just as commercially attractive for the electrical sector as smoothies and soups. The rise in popularity of the slow cooker

is yet another manifestation of the trend for healthy foodstuffs and healthy food preparation. This time, however, the health motive is being tempered by the time pressures of peoples’ busy lives, dominated by working couples with little time at home; hence, the rise and rise of the slow cooker. Economical, easy to use and great for making the most of budget ingredients, slow cookers offer consumers a healthier, low-fat method of cooking, requiring a minimum amount of effort from the user. For many dishes, particularly

soups and stews, busy consumers really can just throw all the ingredients in, and even prepare the night before. Slow cookers are also great for cooking cheaper cuts of meat and for accommodating busy people heading out for work as they get on with cooking meals without any help or need for interruption. Slow cookers can yield sales from the

bottom to the very top of the market and independent electrical retailers should make sure they can take a portion of those sales.

BHETA is focused on the opportunities and issues relevant to housewares and small domestic appliance retailing. For more information, contact BHETA on 0121 237 1130, or email, or visit the website at | 17

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