On 21 January 2018, the Government announced the creation of a new national oversight body tasked with identifying consumer risks and managing responses to large-scale product recalls and repairs: The Office for Product Safety and Standards.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths 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…”

What is the purpose of the group?
This group will review and respond to ‘large scale’ product recalls.  It will review responses and identify risks to consumers. The aim is also to help genuine businesses being undercut by firms who may be flaunting current safety guidelines. 

What do the Experts say?
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…”
There have been calls from several bodies 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. Currently, consumers must check individual manufacturers’ websites to keep up to date on product recalls. 

Grenfell Tower Disaster and Whirlpool 
Police have confirmed that a Hotpoint FF175BP model started the fire at Grenfell, which devastated the lives of so many people. Whilst there has been no specific recall of this product, technical experts are carrying out urgent tests and consumers who have bought models FF175BP or the FF175BG have been urged to register their details as a ‘precautionary measure’.
In November 2015 Whirlpool identified a fire risk.  When excessive fluff touches the heating element, the washing machine becomes a fire risk. It is estimated that 3.8 million machines have been replaced or repaired. Whirlpool is the parent company of the brands Indesit, Hotpoint, Proline and Cresa Swan. 
However, they did not issue a product recall.
Whirlpool told customers that they could continue using the washing machines as long as they were not left unattended. Under the threat of legal action, Whirlpool changed that advice in February 2017, saying owners of these machines should be unplugged and not be used until they had been repaired.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards will start work immediately. However, the creation of this group is only one of a long list of recommendations from the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety. 

The new national Government body should ensure that identified faulty products are forcibly recalled to protect UK consumers. However, the practical effects on consumer safety remain to be seen.

If you have suffered an injury from a faulty product, then you may be entitled to compensation. You should contact a local personal injury solicitor to see if you have a claim. Financial compensation for the traumatic effects of an injury can never truly compensate the pain suffered, but it can ensure stable recovery and future, including covering the cost of medical bills. 

Contributor: Greg Almond - Associate Solicitor at Aticus Law