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Safer household appliances for all


02 Nov 2010


Health & Consumers

Buyers expect electrical household appliances to be safe for themselves, their children and the older members of their families. Regulators expect a high level of health and safety protection for all consumers, as reflected in European Directives. However, until now, the European standards for the safety of electrical household appliances excluded use of these appliances by two significant groups of consumers: children and “infirm persons”1. This ‘exclusion clause’ in the standards has represented an unwelcome discrimination.

Since 2005, ANEC has been working to achieve deletion of the ‘exclusion clause’ through the revision of the standards for several everyday appliances: vacuum cleaners, electric irons, cooking ranges, hobs, and ovens, washing machines, appliances for skin or hair care, as well as those for oral hygiene2.

These first six revised standards were adopted by CENELEC in April 2010 and were made available on 1 November. They are the first to include requirements for use of household appliances by vulnerable consumers. Their adoption represents a huge achievement for ANEC and the consumer movement as they will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union as ‘harmonized standards’, so permitting manufacturers a presumption of conformity to European health & safety legislation in their application.

However, we regret the surface temperature limit values defined in the revised standards. Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary-General, said: “Although the values are an improvement over the previous versions of the standards, they are not in line with the state-of-the-art knowledge3. The temperature limits in the revised standards are above the burn threshold curves and so still pose a safety risk”. Using these burn threshold curves, the Dutch consumer organisation Consumentenbond in a recent test judged 4 out of 7 microwave ovens to be unsatisfactory safe”.

“The issue is not only technical but goes to the heart of policy on injury prevention. The European policy on the safety of household appliances is based on the support of technical standards and it is industry which has most influence in the development of the standards. This freedom to self-regulate needs to be accompanied by obligations to provide consumers with the highest levels of protection practicable, especially vulnerable consumers”, added Mr Russell.



1 EN 60335 series

2 EN 60335-2-2 (vacuum cleaners), 2-3 (electric irons), 2-6 (cooking ranges, hobs, and ovens), 2-7 (washing machines), 2-23 (appliances for skin or hair care), 2-52 (oral hygiene appliances).

3 CENELEC Guide 29


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ANEC in brief

Raising standards for consumers

ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation, defending consumer interests in the processes of technical standardisation and conformity assessment as well as related legislation and public policies. ANEC was established in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law and represents consumer organisations from 31 European countries. ANEC is funded by the European Union and EFTA, with national consumer organisations contributing in kind. Its Secretariat is based in Brussels.

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