Product Promotion Network

Whirlpool must act now to prevent future deaths

A coroner has called on white goods manufacturer Whirlpool to take action to prevent future deaths after two men were killed in a fire caused by a tumble dryer. Bernard Hender, 19, and Doug McTavish, 39, died following the blaze at a flat in Llanrwst, North Wales, on October 10 2014. At an inquest that concluded in September, coroner David Lewis found that the blaze was most likely caused by an electrical fault in the door switch of a Hotpoint tumble dryer.

Following the inquest, he published a report for the prevention of future deaths. The report has been issued to US firm Whirlpool, which manufactures Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda machines, among others. Read our guide on your Whirlpool tumble dryer safety rights[1] for more information on what to do if you have a Whirlpool-manufactured appliance that you’re concerned about.

Potentially dangerous appliances still out there

In the report, Mr Lewis raised concerns that evidence from witnesses called by lawyers for Whirlpool during the hearing had been ‘defensive and dismissive’.

He said: ‘The door switch assembly of interest in this case is used in literally hundreds of thousands of appliances manufactured by Whirlpool.
‘I did not emerge from the hearing confident that Whirlpool’s risk-assessment processes have fully identified or appreciated the extent of the risk of fire (and its potential consequences).’ Mr Lewis also said that evidence from the firm’s retired global product safety director Larry Latack about the use of data from the field, such as reports of fire, was of ‘considerable concern’.

He said: ‘I am concerned that the company’s reluctance to place due reliance on information coming forward in this way, and instead to prefer to take advice from itself, represents an obstacle to timely learning and a likely inhibitor to progressive steps which might prevent fires and save lives.’

Time for Whirlpool to take action

Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill said: ‘The coroner’s report exposes the fundamental failings of Whirlpool’s handling of unsafe products. ‘The government should urgently investigate if this is a breach of the company’s obligations under product safety law and immediately enforce a full product recall of all remaining fire-risk tumble dryers in people’s home.

‘This case is further evidence that the UK’s product safety regime is simply not fit for purpose and must be reformed, with the creation of a new national body to lead on issues of this nature.’ Join our conversation on Whirlpool and whether the government should take action to intervene on this product safety issue.[2]

Do you have an affected Whirlpool dryer?

There are known issues with more than 100 Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline and Swan tumble dryer models (all brands owned by Whirlpool) made between April 2004 and October 2015 could pose a fire risk.

But as yet, no safety notice has been issued from the faults exposed through the above inquest. It’s known that at least 750 fires have been reported since 2004 that involved affected Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit and Proline dryers. Whirlpool still hasn’t published a full list of affected models, which is why some might not be found on our list of affected models that you can find here.

We strongly recommend that you check with Whirlpool if you’re concerned that you, or someone you know, own a tumble dryer affected by the safety alert. If your dryer is one of those affected, unplug it immediately and don’t use it until it’s been fixed. Trading standards has issued two enforcement notices on Whirlpool, forcing the company to warn you to unplug and not use the faulty machines.

Whirlpool is now saying that if you have an affected machine you must unplug it immediately and not use it until it’s been fixed.

Whirlpool has an ongoing programme to replace or repair fire-risk machines across the UK that have been registered with the company.

Read our tailored guide on your Whirlpool tumble dryer safety rights[3] for more information on what to do.

References

  1. ^ guide on your Whirlpool tumble dryer safety rights (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Join our conversation on Whirlpool (conversation.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ guide on your Whirlpool tumble dryer safety rights (www.which.co.uk)

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