A rise in the number of dangerous product reports in the EU has led the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI) to question why the UK has fallen out of the top five case reporting countries, according to newly published figures by the European Commission.
The ACI, which highlights and reports issues with sub-standard, faulty and non-approved cables in the UK, is concerned that the 2014 Rapid Alert System report (for dangerous non-food products*) `Keeping European Consumers Safe’, shows the UK has dropped out of the top five countries, with its reports falling 30% since 2012. Spain, Germany and the Netherlands have all increased their notifications in the past two years.
The statistical report contains information on notifying and reacting countries; countries of origin and types of products subject to notification; risks posed and measures undertaken. It revealed this time that 2,435 products were either stopped before entering or removed because they were deemed dangerous for EU consumers during 2014. Of these 2,155 were deemed to be serious risk notifications.
Concerned by the findings, the Approved Cables Initiative said: “The figures raise the question as to why UK notifications have dropped. It could be due to smaller numbers of sub-standard products entering the UK market. We think this unrealistic however as with an overall European rise it suggests it is more likely that there is uneven market surveillance in the EU and in particular low levels in the UK.
“We have also noted that of the larger EU countries, the UK has the lowest percentage of compulsory recall measures preferring to use voluntary measures for more than 80% of cases reported. We would ask why the UK uses predominately informal measures rather than legal measures for recalls compared to other European Countries and has the effectiveness of this approach been assessed.”
“It’s clear from the report that market surveillance activities vary greatly among member states. We believe that market surveillance is vital to the protection of the UK consumer and to this end the ACI has just completed its response to the Government’s Product Safety Review which will look at the UK’s system for the recall of unsafe products. The independent review will focus on how it can make enforcement more effective and explore consumer understanding of the process. We look forward to the results of this review.”
The 2014 statistics from the Rapex Annual Report also showed:
- Electrical appliance and equipment were the third most common product categories notified
- Electric shock was the fourth most common type of risk notified
- The majority of dangerous products notified in the system came from outside the EU. China (including Hong Kong) was indicated as a country of origin for 64% of notified products.
The findings align with the issue of sub-standard products and in particular cables, within the cable supply chain and building industry in general. A presentation last month by the ACI to SELECT members in Scotland drew some interesting commentary from the audience. Confirmation was given that suspect sub-standard and counterfeit products were available in that region and that sub-standard cables have been found having been manufactured in both the UK and non-UK.
There was a divergence of opinion. Some thought electricians have little time to look at or inspect cables for compliance to a standard and will often buy in good faith. Whilst others are multi-tasking and while looking for sub-standard cables they will also be checking circuit breakers, fuses, sockets and glands.
It is not just within the cable supply chain that this has become a followed story. The LABC’s (Local Authority Building Control) Building Bulletin this month carried news on how to spot sub-standard cable. Of all the stories the ACI’s article was read by 20% of those that opened the Bulletin.
Peter Smeeth of the Approved Cables Initiative said: “While these statistics are a sign that the problem isn’t going away it is encouraging to know that awareness within the industry continues to grow”.
*Established by the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) in 2004, the Rapid Alert System ensures that information about dangerous non-food products withdrawn from the market and/or recalled anywhere in Europe is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission. It does not cover food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which are coved by other alert systems. Thirty-one countries (EU together with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) currently participate in the RAPEX network system.
Approved Cables Initiative
Approved Cables Initiative (ACI), an industry-wide working group, is highlighting the dangers of unsafe, substandard, non-approved and counterfeit cable to the cable supply industry (electric and data) and the general public.
Its work focuses upon communicating that such cable is dangerous and that there is a gap in current legislation and enforcement. It is currently pushing for changes to UK legislation to stop dangerous cable being imported and to increase the penalties for infringements.
Anyone with information or concerns about a suspected faulty or counterfeit cable should contact the ACI who will test samples and if found to be unsafe supply details to relevant industry regulators and legislators. ACI can also provide guidance where appropriate to installers.
The ACI works with supply chain representative bodies including Electric Distributors Association (EDA); Electric Contractors Association (ECA); Electric Safety First; British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC); British Cables Association (BCA); Energy Networks Association (ENA); Ascertiva (previously the NICEIC Group Limited), SELECT and the Joint Industry Board (JIB).