Product safety intelligence

UK-only standards

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While most safety standards applying to consumer products in the UK are identical to the standards in other European countries (and published by the British Standards Institute as a "BS EN") not all older national standards have yet been replaced.  Occasionally even a completely new "BS" may be published for products not otherwise covered by standards.

 For example common European standards apply in UK to cribs and cradles (BS EN 1130), cots (BS EN 716), bunk beds (BS EN 747) and beds for adults (BS EN 1725), but not for beds (other than bunks) designed for children who have outgrown a cot.

Within the UK the safety of normal height children’s beds can now be judged against a national standard BS 8509. However, there is as yet no standard in the UK for the popular 'mid-height sleeper' or 'captains bed' with a mattress base between 400 and 800 mm above the floor.

There is also a UK-only standard (BS 7972) for separate bedguards intended to stop children rolling out when they begin to sleep in a bed without barriers.

For products covered only by General Product Safety Regulations, compliance with a voluntary standard (whether a BS or BS EN) is not a pre-requisite to allow the product to be placed on the UK market, but the levels of safety and means of protection provided by the standard are likely to be taken into account by courts if the product is considered unsafe by enforcement authorities or if there is personal injury claim by a user of the product.

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 November 2008 19:00 )
 

Multi-function child-care products

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One of the most innovative areas in baby and child-care products is combining in one piece of hardware the functions that would previously have required two or more separate products. For example a cot that can be fitted with a changing table or a high chair that morphs into a baby swing.  Parents are now offered ‘baby transport systems’ incorporating a ‘seat unit in which a baby can sleep, be carried, be strapped into car or be propelled by an adult while jogging.  Given the number of separate items a baby might otherwise need, parents are attracted to products that offer such a saving in floor space required. Unfortunately, in the child care product sector safety standards usually address the hazards of one or two dedicated functions. In innovative designs that are multi-purpose or incorporate additional features or actions, additional hazards may arise which will not be revealed simply by testing to the existing standards. Such products pose distributors a higher risk of facing investigation by trading standards, complaints from customers and – and potentially a major recall and/or injury liability claims.


 

For example, a product that combined the functions of a reclined bouncing seat, a rocking cradle and a carry cot, introduced a route for a baby laying flat to shuffle backwards until its head dropped into a gap between the top of the seat and the sun hood, allowing the child’s torso to flip over trapping its neck and suffocating it. The presumed sequence was reproduced using an appropriately weighted manikin.


 

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 October 2008 17:14 )
 

Go-Ped Petrol Scooters

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A Go-Ped is a scooter with a small petrol engine fitted to the rear wheel. These vehicles are sold by the manufacturer as not being suitable for use on a road, however there instances where such vehicles have been used by the rider on a road without having registered the vehicle with Driver Vehicle Licencing Agency, or having obtained the appropriate documentation or complied with Construction and Use Regulations.

A  decision in the High Court (Chief Constable of the North Yorkshire Police - v - Saddington (26.10.2000) clarified the legal position in relation to these vehicles.

The Court accepted that such a vehicle when being used on a road is a 'mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads' under Section 185 RTA 1988, and is therefore a motor vehicle as defined in that section. The High Court decided, therefore, that a Go-Ped  could not be ridden on the road without a driving licence and insurance.


Enquiries with DVLA have confirmed that before a Go-Ped can be used on a road it must be registered as a Moped. The owner and driver of such vehicles must comply with all relevant Road Traffic Act and Construction and Use Regulations applicable to the use of such a motor vehicle on a road.

Go-Peds lack the things that make a real moped safe (brake lights, indicators, a horn, etc) becuase they are not designed for road use, but the top speed of 20 mph makes them a poor mixer with pedestrians. The Go-Ped's  unsuitability for traffic means that insurance companies won't cover them.

 

Counterfeit branded goods

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Even major high street stores in the UK are being fooled into distributing consignments of counterfiet (and potentially dangerous) electrical appliances, believing them to have been made by companies whose respected brand names they carry.

Superdrug is recalling pink hair styling irons labelled as "ghd" which were sold to consumers in its stores between 3 August and 17 September 2008, after dsicovering that the products were fakes and  may breach the requirements of Regulations and Standards applying to these types of appliance.

Counterfiets of products bearing well-known brand names are an increasing safety concern for Trading Standards Authorities (and commercial concern for the brand owners) . However, until now they have mainly been offered to UK consumers through the grey market outlets of the internet, car boot sales, market stools and  itinerent traders.

Source: Recall notice in Daily Mirror 20/9/08

 

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 October 2008 12:12 )
 
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