MPs on the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Committee declared it ‘astonishing’ that four years on from Whirlpool revealing defects in its tumble-dryers that as many as 800,000 defective machines could still be present in people’s homes and posing a fire risk.
The defective tumble-dryers were sold under brand names including Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline. A product recall notice was issued relating to certain models of dryers built between 2004 and 2015.
The MPs said the company’s attitude to safety was further exposed with its improbable suggestion that the Grenfell fire, rather than originating in one of its fridges, as the Metropolitan Police found, was caused by a stray cigarette.
The BEIS Committee’s report on the safety of electrical goods in the UK, published in November, criticised Whirlpool for its slow response in modifying or replacing faulty machines.
The report slammed the company’s use of Non-Disclosure Agreements and their efforts to deflect the concerns of safety organisations and customers rather than focussing on practical steps to address the safety problems.
The committee’s report welcomed the recall of Whirlpool’s defective machines, announced back in July, but regrets that it took “far too long” for the Government to force this decision. The report also expressed concerns, shared by safety organisations, about the safety of Whirlpool’s modification.
MPs also called on the Government to press ahead with a new review of the safety of Whirlpool’s modification and to investigate other possible sources of fires in Whirlpool’s tumble-dryers.
The report called for the establishment of an independent arms-length body, like the Food Standards Agency, with a wide range of civil and criminal sanctions. It should take the lead on tackling dangerous second-hand and illegal online electrical goods and push forward with safety initiatives such as a national injury database, a comprehensive registration and recall hub, and indelible marking for electrical goods.
The report recognises the funding issues facing Local Trading Standards (LTS) teams, ‘the eyes and ears’ of the Office of Product Safety and Standards and the local product safety enforcer. The report notes they are struggling due to cuts in funding and called on the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to take responsibility for LTS and ensure it is fully funded.
Whirlpool urged those who own an affected tumble dryer and have not already had it replaced or modified to contact the company immediately on 0800 151 0905 or go to www.whirlpool.co.uk/dryerrecall.
By Patrick Mooney, Editor