Are Plastic Backed Fridges Safe? Watchdog Calls For a Ban
- Unsafe plastic on back of fridges is a fire risk
- Similar style to what is believed to have caused the Grenfell fire
- Over 250 models labelled ‘don’t buys’
Consumer watchdog, Which?, has called for plastic-backed fridges to be urgently removed from sale.
Which? found that the fridges pose a fire risk, and could even hasten the spread of a blaze.
An industry wide investigation of more than 500 of the most popular refrigeration appliance on the market found that backing material on 45% of them was made of unsafe plastic, which posed a potential fire risk.
A plastic backed fridge freezer is believed to have been the cause of the Grenfell fire.
The research also found that a number of models backed with plastic, which manufacturers previously claimed was fire retardant, could actually speed up the spread of a fire, the consumer group said.
All plastic-backed fridges, freezers, and fridge-freezers on the market pass existing safety standards, but Which? said the tests were inadequate and not fit for purpose.
Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive, 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.”
The current british Standard require refrigeration appliances to pass a glow wire test to assess their fire resistance, involving putting a hot wire through a sample of the fridge or freezer backing material, and seeing if it catches alight.
However, Which? said its own tests found that no plastic backing sample was able to withstand a flame for 30 seconds, indicating that in the event of a fire, it would not sufficiently prevent the flame from reaching the flammable insulation.
It has now labelled 250 models ‘don’t buys’, and is recommending consumers do not buy plastic-backed models at all.
As well as this, Which? is calling on manufacturers to stop making refrigeration products with any plastic backing and urging retailers to immediately stop selling them.
A Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy spokesman said, “The Government’s top priority is to keep people safe.
“Manufacturers selling white goods in the UK must meet some of the strictest safety laws in the world and we are working with Which? and other parties to see whether standards can be made even more stringent.”
Which? has also slammed the current UK safety rules on cold appliances as ‘deficient’ and ‘inadequate’ because they allow makers to use non-flame retardant material.
Last year, the London Fire Brigade revealed how a plastic-backed fridge can ignite in just 66 seconds.