Appliance manufacturer fined £76,659
Appliance manufacturer Beko has been fined £76,659, plus £11,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching product safety regulations, following an investigation and prosecution by Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading standards.
The company appeared at Watford Magistrates Court on November 3, 2014 and pleaded guilty to 23 charges of failing in its obligation to notify an enforcement authority about unsafe gas cookers. It had continued to supply products for four years after concerns arose that the products were not ‘safe products’.
Under Regulation 9 of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, the company had a legal obligation notify trading standards about any unsafe product where there is a serious risk, and Beko admitted failing to do so.
In February 2009, Beko became aware of a safety concern on 23 models of double cavity gas cookers with a separate grill capable of conversion for liquid petroleum gas (LPG). There was a risk that if converted, using Beko’s conversion kits, with the grill switched on and the rill door closed contrary to safety instructions, deadly carbon monoxide gases could be released.
The company only gave formal notification to Hertfordshire Trading Standards in relation to the LPG conversion issues in August 2013.
Magistrates said Beko missed several opportunities to notify Trading Standards and for each offence the company was fined £3,333, making a total fine of £76,659. Beko was also ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £11,000.
A spokesperson for Beko said: “Beko acknowledges it should have notified Hertfordshire Trading Standards about the LPG conversion kits issue as soon as it was aware of the matter. It accepts responsibility for not doing so. Finding these LPG kits was Beko’s priority at the time and its efforts are continuing through a wide range of activities. It is important to record that the charges relate solely to Beko’s communications with Hertfordshire Trading Standards around the LPG issue, not its extensive activities to trace the kits.”
The prosecution said the company had a legal duty to notify, rather than a ‘preference’ and thus Beko breached its legal duty.
Richard Thake, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Department is always available to give advice on safety issues and I am deeply disappointed that it has proven necessary for us to initiate court proceedings in this case. The fact that this prosecution has been successful is gratifying and the level of penalty imposed plus the fact that costs have been rewarded is an indication that the court has taken a serious view of this matter.”
He continued: “I’d like to remind the public that they should look out for safety warnings and product recalls and that there are still potentially dangerous products in homes around the country. Consumers who want to check if their Beko appliance is subject to a safety recall can visit http://www.beko.co.uk/Pg/Safety or call Beko on 0800 917 2018.”