Electrical safety group fears Brexit risk for consumers

Safety standards must not be allowed to slip following the UK’s departure from the EU, says charity Electrical Safety First.

With the risk of a no-deal Brexit looming large as the clock ticks down to the March 29 departure date, ESF has urged the UK government that, regardless of the outcomes from the ongoing negotiations, consumer safety must be made a priority.

The charity wants current EU legislation surrounding safety standards on electrical goods as well as consumer protection rights to continue to be mirrored into UK law to ensure all electrical items are safe, so that consumers are protected from the risk of substandard or counterfeit products.

Substandard and counterfeit electrical products pose a much greater risk to life compared to items such as fake clothing and carry with them the risk of electrocution and fire.

Phil Buckle, ESF’s chief executive, said: “No outcome from the ongoing EU-UK negotiations should be to the detriment of safety standards or consumer protection rights.”

“The risks posed by substandard and counterfeit electrical products are a very real threat to consumer’s safety and one the charity continues to highlight.”

It is likely the UK will need to take on much greater responsibility surrounding enforcement and checks of imports in order to assess compliance with new customs controls and, to do so effectively, front line enforcement bodies such as trading standards must be adequately resourced to take on this increase in responsibility.

“It is essential the UK does not become a priority destination for substandard or counterfeit products as a result of possible deregulation of safety standards,” said ESF.

An investigation by ESF last year found that one in three UK residents had purchased a counterfeit online thinking it was genuine, equivalent to a whopping 18m people, and concluded that online retailers  were not doing enough to curb fake electrical devices.

Meanwhile, towards the end of 2017 EFS published a report revealing that the majority of counterfeit or lookalike Apple chargers sold online have the potential to deliver lethal electric shock and/or cause a fire. It tested 50 chargers purchased in the UK and 98 per cent failed one or more safety tests.

That reveals the vulnerabilities even in a well-regulated market like the UK, and makes it doubly important that standards are not compromised by Brexit.

“Future trade negotiations must not be made at the expense of product safety standards which could ultimately put the consumer at greater risk in the home,” says the charity.

According to the European commission, customs authorities across the EU seized an estimated 5m more counterfeit items in 2015 than the previous year – a 15 per cent increase – with China the most common source country.

Meanwhile, a National Trading Standards report on product safety at ports and borders published last year found that enforcement bodies has identified some 1.2m unsafe or non-compliant goods, preventing approximately 500 fires, 1,000 major injuries and 2,000 minor injuries with a net benefit to England and Wales of almost £7m (around $9m). NTS also says that investment in our enforcement bodies provides a clear return on investment delivering £12.28 for every £1 spent.

“Electricity is responsible for more than half of accidental domestic fires in England and any weakening of such standards could see this figure rise in the future,” says ESF.

“It is essential that enforcement bodies, which serve on the front line in the fight against substandard and counterfeit electrical items, are adequately resourced to be as effective as possible as we depart from the EU.”

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top