Government starts new Office for Product Safety and Standards to manage recalls after Grenfell warnings

Office for Product Safety and Standards will manage responses to large-scale product recalls and identify risks

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Sunday 21 January 2018 01:36 GMT
The Grenfell Tower fire was started by a faulty fridge-freezer
The Grenfell Tower fire was started by a faulty fridge-freezer

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The Government is strengthening the UK's product safety regime by creating a new body in the wake of warnings following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards will manage responses to large scale product recalls and identify risks to consumers.

It will also offer help to businesses hit by unfair competition from rogue firms.

Andrew Griffiths, the business minister, said: “The new Office for Product Safety and Standards will strengthen the UK's already tough product safety regime and will allow consumers to continue to buy, secure in the knowledge there is an effective system in place if products need to be repaired or replaced.”

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “The LGA is pleased that its call for more support from government for local trading standards teams around product safety has been answered.

“Today's announcement is a positive step towards making sure that those teams are able to protect our residents from faulty electrical equipment, such as tumble dryers or fridge freezers, which can cause fires which can destroy life and devastate property.”

It came months after the Grenfell Tower fire, where a blaze believed to have been started by a Hotpoint fridge-freezer spread through the block and killed 71 people.

The LGA and fire services called last week for the Government to establish a national register for product recalls that was accessible to the public to ensure faulty and dangerous appliances are not used.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee had warned that one million defective tumble dryers are still being used in British homes, calling the Government had been “painfully slow” in improving standards.

Currently, consumers must check individual manufacturers’ websites to keep up to date on product recalls.

Alex Neill, of consumer group Which?, 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.”

Additional reporting by PA

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