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Safety: Standards

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 20 December 2010 (WA 265), whether European standard BS EN 60335-2-6:2003 for electric ovens and hobs, in its new Clause 7.10 on devices used to stop operational functions of electric ovens and hobs, means that manufacturers and retailers are now required to provide both tactile and visual signs of a switch being operated.

Photo of Baroness Wilcox Baroness Wilcox The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The safety of electric ovens and hobs is regulated by the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 (SI 1994/3260). European Harmonised standards, also published as British Standards, such as BS EN 60335-2-6:2003 provide a presumption of conformity to the requirements of the regulations. However, that presumption is challengeable by an enforcement authority by an argued safety case. The regulations do not make it mandatory to comply with a standard, but products must comply with the regulations and be safe.

The standards set what are considered as "State of the art, good engineering practice, extending of scientific knowledge, ability of engineering to produce solutions, reasonable expectations of consumers, and further relevant aspects". Compliance with a standard is a generally easier route than complying directly with the requirements of the legislation.

It is for CEN/CENELEC and the national standards bodies such as the British Standards Institute to keep the standards up to date. Inputs into the national standards bodies, such as through the British Standards Institute (BSI), and from European initiatives such as that for the older person and persons with disabilities take forward the understanding of what forms a safe product. The Government would only become involved in extreme cases, e.g. where a product is removed from the market by Trading Standards.

Currently clause 7.9 of BS EN 60335-1:2002 requires that switches on electrical appliances which may give rise to a hazard when operated shall be marked or placed so as to indicate clearly which part of the appliance they control. A revision to BS EN 60335-2-6:2003 will make it necessary for electric ovens and hobs to have either a tactile or audio-visual indication for switches. As time passes, expectations change and state of the art advances these requirements can be expected to change.

The Government are currently content with the standardisation activity which is kept under review. Persons with strong views on current requirements of standards are free to directly approach the national standards body-for the UK that would be BSI.

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