The Ladder Association has placed its full support behind an open letter to the Secretary of State for the Department for Business and Trade, the Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch, urging the Government to immediately release the long-awaited Product Safety Review, and address the sale of dangerous goods from online marketplaces once and for all.
The Review is, amongst other things, expected to contain proposals which safeguard people from purchasing dangerous products from online marketplaces.
The open letter, drafted by Electrical Safety First, Which?, British Toy & Hobby Association and Chartered Trading Standards Institute, highlights the absence of adequate safety regulations for online marketplaces and the significant risk this legislative gap poses to consumer safety. While we wait for the outcome of the Review – and any proposals it offers – multiple investigations have continued to highlight the risks faced by unsuspecting consumers purchasing dangerous goods online.
The Ladder Association’s own recent market surveillance study released in May 2022, investigated the conformity of imported telescopic ladders with product standard EN 131. The study found that 82% of surveyed telescopic ladders purchased from a range of sources, with an emphasis on online marketplaces, were not compliant with the required safety standards. In the majority of cases, the ladders were unsafe to use and the faults greatly increased the risk of a fall from height when using the product. Worse still, over half of the failed ladders were marked and sold as ‘compliant’ in a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.
Unlike the traditional high street store, online marketplaces are not recognised as actors in the supply chain, so the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 does not apply to them. Consequently, they have no responsibility for preventing unsafe goods sold on their platforms, and no legal obligation to inform consumers if they have purchased unsafe goods.
Almost a year on from the promised spring 2022 publication of the Product Safety Review, and exacerbated by the rise in online shopping and unscrupulous sellers’ exploitation of the cost-of-living crisis, the situation has only got worse. Further delays are unacceptable and may have serious or even fatal consequences.