Thank you to those who have contacted me about the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) review into Whirlpool tumble dryers. I agree it is shocking that the OPSS says the risk from Whirlpool tumble dryers is low when consumers continue to report signs of fire in machines that have supposedly been fixed.
My Labour colleagues and I are far from satisfied that the OPSS review was strong enough. I note, for example, that the Government has said interviews with affected Whirlpool customers did not form part of the review. Also, the Government says the OPSS is not aware of any evidence of lint fires attributed to a failure in Whirlpool’s technical modification designed to fix this problem. Yet according to consumer group Which?, one customer received a report from a Whirlpool engineer giving lint as the cause of her tumble dryer starting to produce smoke, despite the machine having been repaired.
It is also extremely worrying that Whirlpool is alleged to have paid a consumer not to speak out after her machine caught fire. The Government needs to make clear whether the OPSS was aware of this allegation and, if it was not, if it will reopen its investigation into Whirlpool.
The UK’s product safety regime has been out of date and not fit for purpose for some time. The Government established the OPSS in 2018 after years of reviews and consultations. I believed it was a step in the right direction. However, cuts to local authority budgets have reduced the ability of trading standards bodies to enforce product safety measures and it appears the OPSS does not go far enough in addressing the fundamental issues of our product safety and recall regime.
This issue requires serious action and I believe the Government is letting consumers down. Lives are on the line – it is vital that we do all we can to ensure that the products people buy are safe to use.