Smart Consumer: Don't take the risk with products that are unsafe
You pick up a pair of shoes, a kettle or a toy and I bet you are assuming that they're all perfectly safe.
You certainly have every right to expect that, as every product on the market in Ireland and the rest of Europe has to conform to European product safety rules and standards.
It doesn't matter where the product was made (and the vast majority on sale in Europe are made in China), only that it is now on sale here.
But as always some will slip through that net. And as the woman I spoke to recently whose laptop went on fire will attest, those unsafe products can put you at serious risk.
When an unsafe product is found on the market, sales could be banned, the product withdrawn from the market, consumers could be asked to return the product or information is published about the risks.
For example, last week B&Q recalled their 'blooma moon chair' as there is a risk of the chair collapsing. Consumers can return the chair and get a refund.
Also, last week a safety alert was issued for certain models of BEKO frost-free fridge freezers. The risk is that the defrost timer may fail and overheat andowners should call BEKO to arrange a free modification.
In 2010 2,244 unsafe products were found on the European market. That's a 13pc increase on 2009 but the European Commission is careful to point out that this just means that reporting and surveillance has improved.
Of the figures, Ireland accounted for 1%, 23 in total, which is line with our population figures.
The Commission details all notifications of potentially dangerous products, and then it's up to the National Consumer Agency (NCA) to find out if the product is on the market here and what steps to take.
The onus is on the manufacturers and distributors to ensure the products they place on the market are safe. In addition the relevant authority, the NCA, can carry out surveillance.
If you find an unsafe product, or suffer an injury because of one, report it to the NCA.