Press release

Working group report demonstrates progress on product safety

The Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety has set out its recommendations for improving the UK’s product safety system.

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Established in October 2016 by Consumer Minister Margot James, the group consisting of product and fire safety experts was brought together to explore and build on the recommendations made by Lynn Faulds Wood in her independent review into consumer product recalls.

Led by Chief Executive of the Institution of Fire Engineers and former deputy Chief Fire Officer Neil Gibbins, the group provided interim recommendations in December 2016 and embarked on a programme of work to improve the recall system. The minister received their report in April, which outlined progress made by the Working Group in the past 6 months.

Since Lynn Faulds Wood’s report into product safety was published in February 2016, a number of her recommendations and further actions have already been taken forward, including:

  • considering the framework for a national body to support consumers on product safety
  • updating the government’s product recall page, ‘Acting on Product Safety’, to provide a one stop shop for recall information across a number of products, including electrical appliances, vehicles and food
  • tasking the working group with considering a new standard on recalls, which they are taking forward with the British Standards Institution
  • undertaking behavioural insights research with the working group to understand how to increase the impact and effectiveness of product safety messages

The working group’s recommendations include:

  • setting up a central scientific and technical resource, to help support effective decision making of government, businesses and enforcers, and co-ordinate national corrective action and recall programmes
  • working with BSI to create a Code of Practice for businesses and regulators – informed by behavioural insights research – to set out best practice for undertaking and evaluating corrective action and recalls of products
  • improving the way product-related accident and fire data is gathered and used to better understand risks
  • establishing effective arrangements between trading standards and electrical goods manufacturers through Primary Authority, to strengthen compliance and recalls

Consumer Minister Margot James said:

Everyone deserves to know that the products in their homes are safe to use, and that there is a robust system in place if they need to be repaired or replaced. The government has already taken forward a number of proposals suggested in Lynn Faulds Wood independent review and the working group report builds on that.

I gave the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety an ambitious task – to explore and progress recommendations for improving product safety within 6 months. Under Neil Gibbins’ leadership, the group has made impressive steps which we are already taking forward, for example considering the framework for a national body to support consumers on product safety.

Chair of the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety, CEO of The Institution of Fire Engineers and former deputy Chief Fire Officer Neil Gibbins said:

Since starting my career in the fire service almost 40 years ago, it has been my personal mission to help reduce fires and other risks. I am confident that the recommendations in this report and the progress we have already made can help improve the UK’s product safety regime.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with the minister and the working group members, to deliver outcomes that will make a difference.

The government will continue to work closely with the working group in taking forward its workplan to strengthen the product safety system and will be formally responding in the Autumn.

Published 19 July 2017