Margot James has written to the company asking it to resolve an ongoing safety issue affecting millions of consumers more quickly.
A new government-backed working group will deliver urgent recommendations to improve the safety of white goods, including tumble dryers, Consumer Minister Margot James announced today (15 October 2016).
An ongoing review into local authorities will also prioritise the issue of product safety following an investigation into a serious fire caused by a tumble dryer in Shepherd’s Bush, London. The investigation concluded on Thursday 6 October 2016 that the cause was a tumble dryer with a fault previously identified by the manufacturer.
In the letter sent to Whirlpool UK Managing Director Maurizio Pettorino, Margot James asked Whirlpool for reassurance that everything possible is being done to ensure the safety of consumers and their families.
While Whirlpool has made significant efforts to modify the affected machines, the minister does not consider this to go far enough and has asked the managing director to look at options to reduce the waiting times for machine modifications. Government also wants consumers to receive a clear response committing to action within an agreed timeframe and for Whirlpool to improve how they communicate the option of receiving a replacement machine rather than a modification to its customers.
The new working group on product recalls and safety will bring together expertise from the fire service, trading standards, consumer groups and industry, and report back with interim findings by the end of the year (2016). Areas of focus will be the causes of fires in white goods, the marking of appliances to make them easier to identify after a fire, and a code of practice for product recalls, including the peer review of risk assessments.
Alongside this, the minister has asked an ongoing review into local authorities to prioritise the enforcement of product safety regulation.
Consumer Minister Margot James said:
Manufacturers should be doing everything they can to make sure their products are safe to use and, where needed, rectifying issues as quickly as possible. This government takes consumer safety very seriously and I have offered to meet the managing director of Whirlpool to discuss how the company can improve its response to this issue.
I also want to see what more can be done to improve the safety of white goods and to support local trading standards officers to make sure customers aren’t put at risk.
Information on products currently subject to recall from manufacturers will from today be displayed at product safety and recalls.