Fault Causing Mass Recalls As ‘Killer’ Tumble Dryers Catch Fire UK Wide

In recent weeks, there have been widespread reports of tumble dryers catching fire in UK homes, destroying property and endangering the lives of many families. Automatic recalls are currently being imposed for repairs, but in the meantime we wanted to do our bit to ensure your dryer performs as safely as you would expect.

Whirlpool logo

What’s Causing the Fires?

A selection of dryers, sold under the brands of Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit, and Whirlpool over the last 11 years, have been identified as having a fault in which excess lint from previous washes can come into contact with the heating element, therefore risking fire. The faults have prompted safety notices on both the Hotpoint & Indesit websites.

Within the four brands involved, there are reportedly 5.3 million affected tumble dryers, of which, around 750 have caused fires since 2004. While that is a very small number of cases in relation to the affected number, it still requires resolving. Should you own a tumble dryer from these brands, it is advised to get in touch with the manufacturer and find out if yours needs  repairing.

 

Household Safety

Whether you have an affected model or not there are some easy-to-follow instructions to keep your tumble dryer working at its best without risking fire. It’s important for all owners to remember when running one regularly that, being electrical devices that produce hot air, tumble dryers exhaust a lot of heat and should be taken care of. Our top tips for keeping yours running smoothly include:

 

1. Ventilation, Ventilation, Ventilation

Tumble Dryers produce heat from their ventilation ports when in use. The tendency of many tumble dryer owners is to place theirs in an enclosed space with no room for the hot air to escape during a cycle. A heavily used dryer, placed in such an environment, could at some point suffer a blowout of its motor, the burning of wires or even produce enough heat to impact surrounding surfaces. Give your tumble dryer room to breathe while it’s at work.

2. Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

The front of every tumble dryer contains a tray which collects the lint from each load. These trays are very easy to remove and empty into the bin. Before every load, it is vitally important to empty the tray as a build-up of lint over many washes can create an exceptional risk. What may seem like an unassuming tray of fluff could be the very cause of a large fire.

3. Having a Kink Is Not Okay!

Ventilation has already been mentioned in this list, but it cannot be stressed enough that keeping your machine cool while running hot is a huge fire risk reduction. Part of that ventilation system is the ventilation pipe. These pipes are the wide, ribbed pipes providing the main source of hot air escape. Not only should the end of these pipes find an open area to ventilate into, they should also contain no kinks or damage that can stop them doing their job. If your tumble dryer pipe has seen better days, replace it for a fresh one.

4. Do Not Overfeed

While your dryer may certainly earn it’s keep by enjoying a full load of clothes, it is important to never purposely overfill a machine (there is such a thing as too much). There will be guidelines in your manual or even on the machine itself to explain what constitutes too much. Overfilling can affect the overall temperature and of course a build-up of hot fabric which while working could present a risk of fire.

5. Supervision Is Advised

A common oversight by both tumble dryer and washing machine owners alike, is to switch the machine on as the final task of the day before heading off to bed. The washing machine is less of a fire risk, leaving the tumble dryer unattended however could prove fatal should any of the above (or other) problems occur and a fire starts. You do not necessarily have to remain in the same room as your dryer for the duration of its cycle; but it is strongly advised you do not leave yours on overnight at the risk of endangering the household and the family.

 

Safety First

Whether your machine is from the affected brands or not, old or new, in your kitchen or elsewhere, please use yours responsibly and keep all fire risks at bay. Always remember, these types of fires are not usually electrical fires. The best way to avoid your tumble dryer catching fire is to keep it clean and always load it with a sensible amount of clothing or linen. Other fires and faults that are the result of product design itself are incidents where Sincere Law can step in and assist you. However, following safe procedure is down to that of you the user; so enjoy your dryer, treat it well and enjoy your fresh, warm laundry.

Tumble Dryers Can Be a fire hazard if handled incorrectly

 

Sources:
Whirlpool Logo
Tumble Dryers

Prosthetic Limbs & Personal Injury

We have seen encouraging development in the field of prosthetic limbs over recent years; a far cry from the makeshift wooden blocks once used to return an amputee into society. How though does the law view these limbs in the situation of sustaining damage negligently? As part of a person or simply property?

The History of Prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs date back to early civilisations. The oldest known prosthetic was a false leg taken from a roman burial from around 300bc which suffered the unfortunate fate of being destroyed in a World War II bombing raid. However, in 2012, a prosthetic toe was found belonging to an Egyptian which dates back to around 710bc – 950bc. Early prosthetics of the time were designed to give “fullness” to the wearer as those who suffered an amputation would want to pass through to the next life whole.

Later developments during the middle ages were made so that the limbs replaced severed appendages lost in battle, designing them so they were able to perform a simple purpose such as a hand that held a shield or a leg that easily fit inside a stirrup. One of the most notorious prosthetics of the time was the ‘Iron hand of Götz Von Berlichingen’ which made the knight quite a fierce and imposing figure on the battlefield.

Gotz Von Berlingenen Hand

During the 17th to 20th centuries, artificial limbs began to look similar to that of a natural appendage, moving closer to the real article to help wearers feel more comfortable in public. Limbs, like the first non-locking below the knee prosthesis, were introduced; allowing a user to walk normally with bendable knees.

Large strides were made following both World Wars, as for the first time in history we saw mass amounts of people require prosthetics to allow them to operate away from the battlefield. With around 67,000 German amputees and 4,000 US amputees alone in World War 1, there was a need for advances in the development of hands, arms, legs and foot prosthetics.

The most recent improvements have ranged from allowing athletes to achieve similar times to able bodied athletes, attempting to simulate touch to send signals to the rest of the body, and creating limbs that operate using signals from the brain.

 

How we went from peg legs to biotic limbs: Source

 

Personal Injury or Property?

Given there have not yet been any landmark cases in the UK regarding damage to artificial limbs, it is hard to give a definite answer when asking if a damaged prosthetic constitutes property damage or personal injury. The main talking point revolves around the ability to cause physical pain when bringing up a personal injury case. With artificial limbs rapidly improving year on year, the ability to rule them as simply property is becoming harder for all in the legal industry. Both sides give credible cases.

 

No Pain, No Personal Injury

The current legal ruling is that any damage caused by a person’s negligence to a prosthetic limb would only constitute property damage on the basis that the limbs are simply mechanical devices causing the user no pain should they suffer harm.

While there isn’t any case evidence of the legal standpoint in UK law, there have been multiple articles commentating from the United States’ point of view. All articles address the issue utilising the above point regarding property not being part of a person.

 

Assimilation Makes Damage Personal

The alternative argument for prosthetics being included in a personal injury case, is the degree to which the user feels the limb is a natural part of their body. If somebody uses their artificial hand, arm, leg or foot regularly, and feels it is a part of them, that limb could potentially be considered as integral a body part as any natural part.

While originally limbs were cruder in design and served a very functional purpose, the advance in their integration into the body could see them viewed in future as important as the rest of their limbs. With newer prosthetics able to read nerve responses and be controlled via brainwaves, a newer amputee may begin to feel as though that limb is the same as it was previously except made from a different material.

Amputation injury, prosthetic leg

Setting Precedents

While this area of law would currently still favour the accepted notion that prosthetics are “property” due to the previous nature of these limbs being purely functional, the rapid advance in technology could open up future debate regarding their connection to the person they are part of.

Sincere Law Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris Walker spoke to us regarding the issue, stating “Currently the law favours the stance that artificial limbs operate outside the body, hence being property. It also accepts that no harm or pain comes to the person if damaged. However; it can be feasible to think in the future, that new technology could bring that theory into question. Anything is possible in science and we are continually seeing strides made in this field. As injury solicitors, we always strive to return a victim to how their life was before an accident. With artificial limbs approaching biotic integration, it is becoming easier for us to achieve this as we get to see our clients happy that life is not as drastically affected as first feared.

Will we ever see a further movement to produce prosthetics that are more biotic than robotic? The future is (as usual) unclear, and despite the strides towards helping amputation victims regain as much of their former self as possible; the law will continually need to take stock as to whether the devices attached to them are still simply property, or eventually become part of a person’s natural body.

 

Sources:

Götz Von Berlichingen Hand – commons.wikmedia.org

Amputee Cyclist – commons.wikimedia.org

 

The Junior Doctors Strike – A Step to Beating Medical Negligence?

Over the last few months there have been multiple talks between the BMA (British Medical Association) and the government over the pay Junior Doctors are receiving and hours being worked. The initial plans for ‘seven day care’ sparked worry about Doctor fatigue and pay fairness. Sincere Law looks at the risk of increased medical negligence as a result of longer working hours.

Sincere Law, Doctors Strike & Medical Negligence Blog
Junior Doctors protesting the changes Made by the Health Minister: Source

Trusted Practitioners

Doctors have incredible pressure in their daily life to look after all in their care, and do so with professionalism; to the point of being entrusted with people’s lives. Given the time span one is required to train for in order to simply graduate to a fully qualified practitioner is usually 10 years at a minimum, 99% of the time we can more than trust our health to these experts.

A Junior Doctor (about whom the current debate is raging) are usually university graduates who have entered into their training. There are 3 stages of education they follow, all of which have a variety of building blocks to piece together a competent, fully qualified doctor.

 

A Junior Doctor’s Training Timeline

Foundation Training: This is the first stage following University. This training usually takes place over 2 years. In each year, a trainee will be building practical, hands on knowledge by completing work experience in a range of environments from GP’s surgeries to A&E and anything in-between. When these years are completed, the trainee will expect to demonstrate a high level of skills in managing their patient’s needs according to their ailment.

Specialty Training: A Junior Doctor will then move on to either a 3 year GP training qualification or a 4 to 6 year speciality training qualification. Both of these offer a much more in depth learning experience into the practice areas required to either be a GP or a specialist.

Consultancy/GP: Following their furthered education down a more specific path, the next step up is to a more senior level and the final stage of becoming a qualified Doctor. The student will sit postgraduate exams following their route down either speciality training or a general practice certificate to be able to graduate into the position of GP or Consultant; making themselves at home in your local medical centre or hospital.

With so much training time, Doctors are widely regarded as very trustworthy and valuable members of society. What then is fronting the decision to announce strikes from those considered beacons of morality for many?

Doctors Strike News Article, Sincere Law
Junior Doctors take on average, over 10 years to graduate to being a GP or Consultant: Source

30% Cuts & 7 Day NHS Deals

While the latest unrest has been squarely down to a recent proposal by the government to change the value of working hours; there has been conflicts previously (2012) to extend Doctor working hours and operate the NHS in full over 7 days. That proposal was met with derision as the argument was that not enough funding for new Doctors would stretch already overworked and overtired staff.

The most recent decision to strike comes in the form of proposed wage cuts in which unsociable hours would be changed from regular night time hours to after 7pm on a Saturday until 7am on a Monday. The change would effectively count a Saturday shift which lasts until 7pm as the same as a weekday shift.


Junior Doctor Argues against the plans: Sky News

The cuts, matched against a deficit of funding for the NHS would again spur the debate as to Doctors working tired and requiring to work longer hours for the same wages they as previously had; in this, the issue of medical negligence lies.

 

Tired Staff & Your Safety

The argument from the Doctors is that nobody wants to risk patient health when it is avoidable and the recent plans from the government endanger that. The need to work longer hours due to staff shortages could easily see your local A&E department stretched with Doctors being asked to do more than they can handle, seriously opening up the potential for operations to contain errors of judgement. The potential rise in complications and fatalities is not something the general public, the government, or Doctors themselves would be willing to risk.

As a result of vigorous campaigning by Junior Doctors, the most recent strike planned for January was called off just before the deadline to allow negotiations to resume with Health Minister Jeremy Hunt. While the issue isn’t settled yet, everybody has been vocal in their opinions on the strike and the reasoning behind it. Here is a selection of your thoughts.

While there is no definite answer or resolution at this stage, Sincere Law, the entire law community and everybody involved will all be asking the same questions; what can be done to ensure that Doctors get a fair pay, but also ensure patients are safe and well cared for? The answers lie within the disputing parties.