Updated guidance on the changes can be found on Gov.uk
E-Bikes and E-Scooters Fire Safety Advice
E-bikes and e-scooters are becoming increasingly popular. Most are powered by lithium-ion batteries which can be charged in the home. The use of these batteries in a wide range of household products is becoming increasingly common.
It is important when charging e-bikes and e-scooters, you do so safely to avoid a risk of a fire starting and putting your families and homes at risk.
With an increased use of e-bikes and e-scooters, comes a corresponding fire safety concern associated with their charging and storage. The use of these products is expected to continue to rise. Some fire services and fire investigators have seen a rise in e-bike and e-scooter battery fires.
Currently there is limited data relating to the number of fires, but London Fire Brigade reported 8 fires caused by e-bikes and e-scooters in 2019. This rose to twenty-four in 2020 and fifty-nine by December 2021.
On occasions batteries can fail catastrophically, they can ‘explode’ and/or lead to a rapidly developing fire. For media stories go to: BBC News and Sky News of the 27 July 2023 and the Chronicle of the 31 July 2023.
For further information go to NFCC
If you own an e-bike or e-scooter or are thinking of purchasing one for yourself or someone else, please take note of this Important Safety Message from the UK’s national product regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).
E-bikes and e-scooters use large lithium-ion batteries which can present a risk of serious fire or explosion in certain circumstances. While these can be used safely, there have been a number of fire incidents involving lithium-ion batteries in e-bikes and e-scooters, including in conversion kits.
OPSS recommends you follow these five steps when purchasing, using or charging your e-bike or e-scooter to reduce fire risks:
- Step 1: RESEARCH – only BUY an e-bike, e-scooter, charger or battery from a known seller and check any product reviews
- Step 2: READ – always READ and FOLLOW the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and using e-bikes or e-scooters
- Step 3: CHECK – not all e-bike or e-scooter batteries and chargers are compatible or safe when used together. Check and only USE the manufacturer’s recommended battery or charger
- Step 4: CHARGE – always charge in a safe place without blocking exits and always UNPLUG your charger when you have finished charging
- Step 5: NEVER – attempt to modify or tamper with your battery
Designation of Electric Toy Safety Standard
The standard for Electric Toy Safety (EN IEC 62115:2020/A11:2020) has been designated under the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 (S.I. 2011/1881) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-standards-toy-safety
The standard specifies safety requirements for electric toys and makes some changes to increase button and coin battery safety for toys, going beyond the requirements in the existing designated version of the standard (EN 62115:2005). Only the application of the designated standard will give a presumption of conformity to the essential requirements of the Regulations applying to the product.
The reference to the designated standard is accompanied by an informative note which provides additional advisory guidance to business on coin and button batteries safety. The guidance encourages businesses to provide important information to parents and guardians at the point of sale of the toy, as well as information once the toy is in use and the packaging disposed of.
Button Battery Safety Campaign
Button batteries are used to power everyday items including car key fobs, remotes, and children’s toys – but if swallowed, they could badly injure or kill a child.
Button batteries react with saliva to create caustic soda, which is the chemical often used to unblock drains. If a child swallows a button battery and it gets stuck in their food pipe (oesophagus), it can burn a hole and cause internal bleeding, or even death. If a button battery gets into the stomach, it can also cause significant tissue damage.
Larger lithium ‘coin cell’ batteries (about the size of a five pence piece) are the most dangerous. Smaller batteries can be inserted into places such as ears and noses, causing serious injuries for children if undetected.
Store spare batteries securely
Store spare button batteries securely and out of children’s reach. Be careful when opening multi-packs of button batteries to ensure they do not fall on the floor.
Know what products use button batteries
Ensure that you know what gadgets and toys use button batteries and check that the button battery compartment is secure. Put products with unsecured button batteries out of children’s reach. Under product safety regulations, button battery compartments in toys are required to be secured.
Educate older children about button batteries
Communicate with older children about the dangers of button batteries including why they should not play with them or give them to younger children.
Discard dead button batteries straightaway
Dead button batteries can still have enough power to badly hurt a small child. When you remove a button battery, store it securely, and recycle it properly and promptly. For more detail go to Gov.uk
Changes to toys and cosmetics legislation
The first statutory instrument amending the UK toys and cosmetics regulations has been laid before Parliament. The Toys and Cosmetic Products (Restriction of Chemical Substances) Regulations 2022 make changes to the toy and cosmetic regulations annexes, either entailing an amendment to the permitted level or the prohibition of specific chemicals in toys and cosmetic products. The changes in respect of CMRs in cosmetics and fragrance allergens in toys came into effect on 15 October, and changes in respect of chemicals assessed by the Scientific Advisory Group on Chemical Safety came into force on 15 December 2022.
You can find out further information by reading the changes to toys and cosmetics regulations GOV.UK news article.
E Cigarettes & Vaping Products
Recent concerns have been raised about the availability on the market of both e cigarette products and their refill products which contain the incorrect and unsafe levels of nicotine. To see the related Government guidance for retailers go to Gov.uk.
To see related press articles where the Trading Standards service and our partners will take action go the Chronicle of the 22 November 2021, the Chronicle of the 24 June 2022, BBC News of the 13 July 2022, the Sunderland Echo of the 14 December 2022, the Daily Mail of the 6 February 2023, the Chronicle of the 26 June 2023 and ITV of the 26 June 2023.
NAO Product Safety Report
On the 16 June 2021 the National Audit Office published a report on the product safety regime. To see a copy of the full report go to Report (pdf 1.3 Mb)
NHS Concerns on Magnetic Products
The NHS has expressed serious concerns about the safety of certain magnetic products. A potentially life threatening TikTok trend, involving tiny magnets that can be easily swallowed, has triggered the NHS to call for a ban.
These tiny magnetic balls are widely sold as creative toys, with a recent TikTok craze seeing them used as fake facial piercings by teenagers.
The viral prank sees people place two magnetic balls either side of their tongue and wiggle it around, creating the illusion that their piercing is real.
The NHS issued a patient safety alert after at least 65 children were admitted to hospital for urgent surgery in the last three years after swallowing magnets.
The magnetic objects are forced together in the intestines or bowels, squeezing the tissue so that the blood supply is cut off. Ingesting more than one can be life-threatening and cause significant damage within hours.
For more information go to NHS
On the 19 January 2021 the Government announced that the Office for Product Safety and Standards will be the new regulator for the safety of construction products. Go to Gov.uk
Building Safety Act 2022
To access information on the related draft construction products regulations go to Gov.uk
Obligation Placed on Businesses
Businesses have a duty to supply only safe consumer products and hence consumers have a right to be protected from unsafe products.
What Consumer Protection Legislation states
- All consumer goods must be as safe as reasonably possible. Some products are dangerous by nature like power tools. These goods must be made as safe as possible and carry instructions and warnings.
- Toys must carry a UKCA mark and/or a CE mark and details of the manufacturer or importer. They must be made to meet certain minimum safety standards. Many toys need an age and safety warning because they could be dangerous for young children.
- New and second-hand upholstered furniture must be made of materials which resist fire. In most cases the furniture should have a swing ticket showing a lighted match and cigarette, plus a permanent label giving production details.
- New and second-hand electrical goods and gas appliances must comply with detailed safety rules. Second-hand items should be tested by a competent person before being offered for sale. All these items must be supplied with full instructions.
- Food containers, packaging and utensils must not transfer substances which could endanger human health or otherwise affect the food. Some of these items need not be marked 'for food use'.
- Children's nightdresses, dressing gowns and bathrobes must be resistant to fire and therefore need not carry a fire warning label. All other nightwear for children and adults need not be fire resistant and therefore must carry a permanent fire warning label.
- All cars on offer for sale must be roadworthy. A current MOT certificate is not a guarantee of roadworthiness.
- Alcohol, cigarettes, fireworks and a range of other products must not be sold to children under 18. If in doubt, seek proof of age.
- All electrical goods must be safe and electromagnetically compatible.
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 allows consumers to sue manufacturers or importers for injury or damage caused by unsafe products. Anyone affected has this right. Consumers do not have to prove negligence. Liability can rest with the producer of the product or of a particular component or both. This action could be taken in addition to any criminal prosecution.
Products covered by safety legislation include
- Mini-moto's and off-road vehicles
- Construction Products
- Cosmetic Products
- Electrical Products
- Food Imitations
- New upholstered Furniture
- Second-hand upholstered Furniture
- New nightwear
- Novelty, Decorative & Ornamental Giftware
- E Scooters
- Food Contact Materials
- New and second-hand Prams & Pushchairs
- Recreational Craft (Boats etc)
- Part worn Tyres
- Button Batteries
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005
The purpose of the General Product Safety Directive is to ensure that all products intended for or likely to be used by consumers under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions are safe. The Directive pursues its principal objective of ensuring consumer product safety by;
- specifying that products placed on the market or supplied by producers and distributors must be safe;
- defining a safe product;
- imposing obligations on producers and distributors consistent with marketing safe products;
- laying down a framework for assessing safety;
- requiring enforcement authorities to be empowered to take the action necessary to protect consumers from unsafe products.
- Go to GPSR Distributors and GPSR Producers for further information.
How to comply with the Legislation
- Always buy from reputable supplier
- Look for signs of approval or compliance - Kite Mark, British Standard
- Make sure products are fully detailed and identified on invoices. Keep all invoices
- Check all products for damage or other obvious safety problems
- If in doubt, speak to the supplier and your Trading Standards Officer
- Any warnings and instructions in respect of goods sold loose must be drawn to the attention of the consumer
- The law applies to both new and second-hand goods
- Age warnings on toys are safety warnings
- Check returned goods for damage if you intend to resell them
- If you supply goods in response to a specific request, you must ensure that they are safe for that purpose
- Unsafe products may result in you having to compensate someone who is injured. Supply also covers offering or displaying goods for sale or hire and includes free gifts
- Products must comply with all relevant safety regulations, not just a British, European or International Standard
- Importing unsafe products may result in you having to compensate someone who is injured
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has a list of:
If you are concerned about the safety of a product, make your concern clear to the retailer, manufacturer or your local Trading Standards Service.
Office for Product Safety and Standards
To access information on product safety go to the website of the Office for Product Safety and Standards
Which? Policy Report on Online Marketplaces and Product Safety
Product testing by Which? has found a succession of unsafe products for sale on online marketplaces in recent years. This includes toxic levels of chemicals in children’s toys; child car seats that are illegal to use in the UK; smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that do not work, and USB chargers that pose a fire or electrocution risk.
With over 90% of people now using online marketplaces to buy an increasingly wide range of consumer goods, these sites are no longer novel ways of shopping but normal practice for millions of people.
The report (pdf 250 kb) sets out the need for action to strengthen the legal responsibilities of online marketplaces and ensure that public authorities have adequate powers, tools and resources to require action from marketplaces when people are put at risk. Specifically, they are calling for a number of actions in relation to the following so that people can be confident they are only buying safe products:
- Online marketplaces should be required to ensure that consumer products offered for sale by sellers on their sites are safe.
- The actions that are required by online marketplaces when unsafe products are identified should be clarified.
- Equip enforcement officers with appropriate powers and resources to police online marketplaces.
- There should be greater transparency obligations so that consumers are clear who they are buying from.
Trading Standards service, Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. Email: email@example.com