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Lawyer supports consumer group's call to end the sale of fire risk plastic-backed fridges

Product liability lawyer backs Which? consumer campaign to ban plastic-backed fridges due to increased fire risk

Posted on 06 April 2018

Lawyers acting for hundreds of victims of fires allegedly caused by faulty household appliances have welcomed calls from the consumer group Which? for plastic-backed fridges to be "urgently" removed from sale after finding that they pose a fire risk and according to Which?, could hasten the spread of a blaze.

Jill Paterson, from the Product Liability and Consumer Safety Team at Leigh Day, said manufacturers should act promptly to the calls from Which? to save lives and prevent injury to consumers. 

In a statement Which? said an investigation of more than 500 of the most popular refrigeration appliances on the market found that backing material on 45% of them was made of plastic deemed unsafe which they said posed a potential fire risk.

The consumer group said that their research also found a number of plastic backed models, which manufacturers previously claimed was flame-retardant, could speed up the spread of a fire.

Whilst all plastic-backed fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers on the market pass existing safety standards, Which? said the tests were "inadequate, not fit for purpose and do not come close to replicating the source of a real house fire."

Which? has now labelled 250 models "don't buys" and has recommended that consumers do not buy plastic-backed models.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: "People will rightly be outraged to learn that manufacturers and retailers are selling potentially unsafe products that could be putting their lives at risk.

"If manufacturers and retailers fail to act and leave plastic-backed fridges, freezers or fridge-freezers on sale, the Office for Product Safety and Standards must step in and take action."

Jill Paterson, a partner at Leigh Day said:

"We have seen too many times the dangers posed by household appliances and the apathy of manufacturers to prevent harm from their machines.

"We welcome these latest calls from Which? to help consumers decide how to stay safe by not purchasing plastic backed appliances as, unfortunately, in the end it seems only damage to profit will force manufacturers to change their behaviour."