...blazing tumble dryers
Following a fire in August which rendered a significant section of an 18-storey block of flats uninhabitable, calls have been renewed for the Government to force white goods manufacturer, Whirlpool, to recall its tumble dryers.
Dawn Rose, a Personal Injury Solicitor at Simpson Millar, examines what has been described by one MP as “corporate malpractice on a grand scale.”
5 million potential deathtraps
If a shop told you that a product you were about to buy could possibly burn your house down and kill you or somebody in your family in the process, you would make a beeline for the exit and resolve never to darken its door again.
Were you to have bought this product unaware that it had the potential to cause such devastation and its inherent dangers were later discovered, you might expect the manufacturer, at the very least, to offer an effective remedy in short order.
This hasn’t been the case so far as Whirlpool is concerned though. The manufacturer of Indesit, Hotpoint, Creda and Proline tumble dryers has point blank refused to recall its products, even though it acknowledges there is a fault that could cause any machine built between April 2004 and September 2015 to catch fire.
Despite the admission and a statement saying: “The safety of consumers is our number one priority”, Whirlpool’s response has been to advise anyone who bought one of their products during the applicable timeframe to check if the dryer is affected by the fault and then to register for a free modification.
In the meantime, Whirlpool insists that customers can continue using their dryers, but not to leave them unattended.
With over 5 million potentially dangerous machines in existence throughout the UK and some people being told they will have to wait until next year for their repair, this is proving to be something of a gargantuan task and certainly not the quick solution one might expect considering the possible consequences.
3 tumble dryer fires everyday
The Government’s response has been similarly non-descript, with Margot James, the Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility has refused to call for a ban or force a recall, saying she “isn’t convinced” the 5 million machines in use are unsafe.
This flies in the face of what the Local Government Association – representing 48 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales – says. They have used the Government’s own statistics regarding tumble dryer fires between 2012 and 2014 (totalling 2,109), to highlight the fact that, on average, firefighters are attending 3 every day.
The Hammersmith MP, Andy Slaughter, in whose constituency the tower block blaze occurred, is campaigning for the dryers to be recalled with immediate effect, calling the matter “totally unacceptable” and “corporate malpractice on a grand scale.”
Linked to at least 3 deaths
“The situation is unacceptable, particularly when there have been so many incidents of tumble dryers catching fire. The Government’s lack of decisive action and the manufacturer’s refusal to recall clearly faulty products offers little consolation to those who have lost their homes, or, indeed, to the families of those who have lost their lives.”
“Faulty tumble dryers have been linked to the deaths of at least 3 people in the UK, which, in anybody’s eyes, is 3 too many, but even that isn’t enough to inspire a quick and effective solution. The fire in the tower block, which is alleged to have been caused by a Whirlpool product due to be seen by an engineer, fortunately resulted in no major injuries, but highlights the fact that progress has been too slow.”
“When lives are potentially at risk, corporations need to throw their hands up, admit they’re in the wrong and devise a clear cut plan to remove the risk, quickly and effectively. When organisations fail to do this, the Government should be prepared to step in with a resolute course of action that protects consumers.”
“Sadly, in the instance of these tumble dryers, neither has happened and it is only through sheer luck and the fantastic work of the fire service that more people haven’t been seriously injured or killed.”
Written by Dawn Rose
For more information on personal injury and the services offered by Simpson Millar, please call
0808 129 3304