Appliance Safety Testing - Links etc.

Defective products are regularly being recalled by manufacturers and other substandard appliances are sometimes discovered at customs or by trading standards. One good source of recall information is the European EUROPA RAPEX website where weekly reports are available (these include non-electrical items as well). The UK Trading Standards recall list can also be useful as can the Electrical Safety First recall list. It is important to register your electrical purchases with the manufacturer so they can contact you if a problem surfaces.

The Plugs and Sockets Regulations define the requirements that mains plugs and adaptors must meet to be legally supplied for domestic use in the UK.  They forbid the supply of electrical appliances for domestic use with a foreign plug and a separate travel adaptor - either a BS1363 plug must be fitted or a foreign plug fitted with an adaptor that can only be removed with a tool.  Appliance testers will be very reluctant to pass an appliance as safe to use if it doesn't fit these criteria.

An investigation into travel adaptors by the Electrical Safety Council found 5 out of 6 failed to meet the British Standard they had supposedly been built to.  These were foreign to UK adaptors but UK to foreign versions have similar issues.  Many travel adaptors do not even pretend to meet UK standards and have very basic problems such as no fuse, unshielded pins or no outlet shutters.

An investigation into phone chargers by Buckinghamshire Trading Standards discovered the UK market was being flooded with unsafe phone chargers that looked ok and were CE marked but failed to comply with UK law.  Phone charges marked with the phone manufacturers name were generally ok - those with no manufacturers details were often sub-standard.

The requirements for UK appliance testing are specified by The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) in the 'Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment 4th Edition'The IET give a brief explanation of appliance testing in this pdf.