Whirlpool Told To Recall 500,000 Tumble Dryers Amid Fire Safety Fears
The government has ordered Whirlpool to recall 500,000 tumble dryers sold to UK customers amid fears they could pose a fire safety risk.
The 'unprecedented' move comes comes four years after a design flaw was identified in Whirpool tumble dryers in which lint could accumulate around the rear drum seal, and fall onto the heater - potentially igniting a fire.
Business minister Kelly Tolhurst made the announcement, saying: "Consumer safety is a government priority.
"I want to assure that we have kept Whirlpool's actions under review and I can tell the House we have informed Whirlpool of our intention to serve a recall notice as a next step of the regulatory process. This is unprecedented action."
In 2015, Whirlpool was issued a warning over an estimated 5 million tumble dryers manufactured and sold in the UK.
The affected products are all tumble dryers from Whirlpool brands, Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan, produced between 1 April 2004 and 30 September 2015.
The design flaw was suspected of causing at least 750 fires over an 11-year period, according to the government.
The company was ordered to contact all customers who had purchased a machine to have it modified, but concerns were raised about the effectiveness of their response.
In May 2018, Kelly Tolhurst asked the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to undertake a review of the action taken by Whirlpool.
A company spokesperson said: "We remain committed to resolving any affected tumble dryers that have not yet been modified.
"To this end, we are in ongoing discussions with the Office for Product Safety and Standards to agree additional measures we have proposed to reach consumers who have not yet engaged with this safety programme.
"We have co-operated with OPSS throughout its recent review of the programme and welcome its findings that consumers whose tumble dryers have been modified can continue to use them safely."
They added: "The crucial message to anyone who still owns an affected dryer and has not already had it modified by Whirlpool is to contact us immediately on 0800 151 0905.
"In the meantime, anyone with an affected dryer that has not been modified should unplug it and not use it until the modification has been completed."
David Chaplin, head of campaigns at Which? said: "For years we've been raising serious concerns about Whirlpool's fire-risk tumble dryers as well as the cynical tactics - such as the reported use of non-disclosure agreements - that the company has used to put its corporate reputation ahead of public safety.
"People's lives have been put at risk for far too long, so it's a hugely significant step that these machines are set to be recalled. But there will be serious questions if this recall only addresses the 500,000 unmodified machines that Whirlpool has already struggled to locate.
"The government must urgently explain what it is going to do about the millions of modified machines still in people's homes, following serious concerns that have been raised by people who have experienced fires, smoke and burning despite the so-called fix."
Whirlpool now urges anyone still owning an affected dryer to contact them immediately on 0800 151 0905.
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