Safe in the knowledge

CEO of Bathroom Manufacturers Association Yvonne Orgill

CEO of BMA Yvonne Orgill says consumers need protection and education about buying cheap products

With the of the creation of a new Office for Product Safety and Standards, it seems at last there are signs of Government taking a serious interest in consumer safety in the home. The remit of this new office, according to the Government, will be to manage large scale product recalls, like that of the defective tumble driers and faulty fridge freezers known to be the cause of many devastating fires – including Grenfell. But why, with so much legislation in place, is the consumer still being put at risk due to buying products for the home which are not safe or ‘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 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 which appeal to the ever more price aware consumer, but which do not meet the UK’s stringent safety and quality requirements.

Look for CE Mark

The CE Mark – which is an assurance that a product has been made or imported has been certified ‘fit for purpose’ - covers all electrical goods, and since 2013, also includes bathroom products like shower enclosures and trays, glass and plastic shower screens, baths and ceramic ware. Reputable UK and European manufacturers invest heavily to ensure their production and technical teams undertake the technical checks for their products to carry the CE Mark. But consumers have an equally important role to play by being vigilant about looking out for the CE Mark to ensure the quality of products they are buying.

Protection and education

We, in the bathroom industry, applaud the creation of the new Office for Product Safety & Standards 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 a 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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