New safety body ‘only solves part of the problem’, claims BMA

There is still a long way to go in making consumers aware of safe products, the BMA has argued.

Yvonne Orgill (pictured), chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, applauded the Government’s creation of the Office for Product Safety and Standards, saying it is finally “taking a serious interest in consumer safety in the home”.

The remit of the office will be to manage large-scale product recalls, like those of the tumble-dryers and fridge-freezers that have been confirmed as the cause of a number of devastating fires, including Grenfell Tower in London.

However, Orgill claimed that the amount of legislation that had been put in place is still not preventing consumers from being put at risk by purchasing products that are not “fit for purpose”.

“We feel there is still a long way to go to help consumers understand how to be vigilant when purchasing certain products for the home,” said Orgill. “We feel there is a perception from the British public that improved standards of manufacture are needed to stop dangerous products getting out there in the first place. But this is simply not the case. The sad truth is that the UK market has been flooded for years with lower-priced products that appeal to the ever more price-aware consumer, but do not meet the UK’s stringent safety and quality requirements.”

She went on to explain that the CE mark, which assures that a product has been manufactured and imported is ‘fit for purpose’, and covers all electrical goods and since 2013, includes bathroom products, such as shower enclosures and trays, glass and plastic shower screens, baths and ceramic ware.

Orgill added that reputable UK and European manufacturers invest heavily to ensure that their production and technical teams undertake the technical checks for products to carry the CE mark.

However, she claimed that consumers have an equally important role to play in being vigilant about looking for the CE mark to ensure they are buying quality products.

“We, in the bathroom industry, applaud the creation of the new Office for Product Safety and Standards,” she added, “but handling product recalls feels like it’s only solving part of the problem – a bit like shutting the stable door when the horse has bolted. We agree with Alex Neil of Which? who says an independent national body is needed to protect consumers and get dangerous products out of their homes. That national body should also have responsibility for working hard to educate consumers to help prevent them from buying dangerous and illegal products in the first place.

“The bathroom industry is already working hard to help make the huge cultural shift needed to move consumers away from practices of ‘doing things cheaply’. Our industry is committed to getting the message through to the consumer that saving a few pounds by buying illegal and non-conforming products for the home can be very expensive in the long term. We’d be delighted to work with the new Office for Product Safety and Standards to help them do the same.”

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