Our continued analysis and research into electrical risk categorisation revealed the need to evaluate the safety and compliance of kitchen appliances with product standards. This product category is regularly notified as being unsafe under RAPEX and a particular cause for concern with some products having child appeal.
The European safety standard for toasters and similar portable cooking appliances has been amended twice since 2008 to reduce surface temperature limits and allow for usage by children from 8 years of age, following instruction or under supervision. With this and our commitment to an ongoing product safety-screening programme in mind, the Electrical Safety First commissioned an independent laboratory to inspect and test 11 products.
The market offers a wide range of kitchen appliances and in most cases we purchased one sample of a particular product type to ensure a broad coverage. The products were bought from the high street or online. Some were chosen for their innovative features and others for their potential child appeal. They included a selection of basic and medium priced portable cooking appliances, a microwave oven and a portable washing machine.
The investigation revealed that only one of the 11 products tested passed the test programme with no departures or observations being noted. Over half of the samples failed to meet the requirements of the relevant product standard. Problems and observations found included:
- Absence of information in manufacturers’ instructions concerning vulnerable users
- Incorrect CE-marking and missing markings such as vendor’s name or trademark
- Missing symbol or caution warning against contact with hot surfaces
- Fitted plugs with 13A fuse link when 3A would suffice
- Hazardous surface temperatures
- Inadvertent operation with possibility of contacting hot surfaces
- Poor internal construction with a potential for internal wiring to contact rotating parts
- Accessible live parts (basic insulation) in a class II construction
Each sample was subjected to testing and inspection under the EN 60335 series of standards. Many of the samples are within the scope of EN 60335-2-9. This standard has recently been amended to cover child usage. The standard now requires the substance of the following wording for manufacturers’ instructions:
“This appliance can be used by children aged from 8 years and above and persons with reduced physical, sensory or mental capabilities or lack of experience and knowledge if they have been given supervision or instruction concerning use of the appliance in a safe way and understand the hazards involved. Children shall not play with the appliance. Cleaning and user maintenance shall not be made by children unless they are older than 8 and supervised.”
This wording was introduced by amendment A13 and a date of withdrawal for national standards conflicting with amendment A13 has been established as October 2013. This amendment also introduced reduced surface temperature limits for metal, coated metal, glass and ceramic, and plastic surfaces of electrical appliances within the scope of the standard.
We asked the test laboratory to consider the above aspects during product testing.