Safety of electrical and gas products and furniture
Electrical and gas products for sale and in use throughout the EU are subject to safety standards. These standards aim to protect consumers and prevent or reduce the risk of injury to anyone using these products. The following is an overview of the main provisions of the law concerning these standards.
EU and Irish legislation sets down safety standards for electrical products in use and for sale in Ireland and throughout the EU member states.
S.I 428 of 1992 The Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Directive and subsequent amendments (S.I. No 307 of 1994) aim to ensure that all electrical equipment placed on the market in the European Union complies with health and safety standards. In general, electrical equipment for use at home must not unduly endanger people, domestic animals or property. Specifically, electrical products must not give rise to hazards either by:
- the equipment itself (for example, an electrical product overheating and so becoming a hazard)
- the equipment’s interaction with the environment (for example a product being dangerous when carrying out its purpose – a kettle leaking and so becoming a hazard when water is being boiled)
The law states that electrical equipment can be presumed to be safe but must be used for the purposes for which it is intended. Consumers therefore, should heed warnings that appear on products. (For example, warnings on hairdryers such as ‘not for use in bathrooms’ etc).
As plugs, sockets and leads in Ireland are different to the rest of Europe the National Standards Authority of Ireland has developed electricity standards to ensure that safety standards are met. The specific standards covering them are:
- SI 222 1969 (IS 167) Electrical Appliances – Colour code for three core leads and
- SI 173 1987 (IS 401) Safety Requirements for Rewireable 13 A Fused Plugs for normal and rough use having insulation sleeves on line and neutral pins.
The standard plugs in Ireland are 3 pin IS411 (BS 1363) type. You are entitled to expect that any electrical item that you buy in Ireland comes with a 3 pin plug. If it does not the item may be considered "not fit for its purpose" as per the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980. Never attempt to place a two pin plug in a three pin socket. The Electricity Supply Board has more information on Safety in the Home
Gas burning appliances are also subject to stringent standards to ensure that they are safe for use in the home. A gas burning appliance covers items such as household heating boilers, gas cookers, gas lighting, gas-fired heaters, etc. SI no 101 of 1992 and SI No 150 of 1995 lay out the requirements for manufacturers of gas burning appliances.
The requirements set down the standards regarding warning notices to be affixed to these appliances, the type of gas to be used, pressure levels, etc. All gas appliances produced since 1997 in use in the EU should carry the CE mark to show that they comply with these laws.
If you are having a gas appliance fitted it is a legal requirement that the installation be carried out by a registered gas installer. The Commission for Regulation of Utilities has appointed the Register of Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII) as the gas safety supervisory body. Companies working on gas installations, fitting of gas appliances or providing appliance servicing must be registered with RGII. To be registered the installer must meet the safety training and other requirements.
The CE Label
All electrical products and gas appliances should have a CE mark. The CE label means that the product conforms with all applicable health, safety and environmental protection standards of the European Union and of the Member State in which the item was bought. The CE mark can appear on the item itself or on the packaging. Look for the CE mark before you buy electrical or gas products.
Fire Safety for furniture
Under S.I. 316 of 1995 the Industrial Research and Standards (Fire Safety) (Domestic Furniture) Order 1995 anyone manufacturing, selling or repairing furniture in Ireland is obliged to ensure materials used (including foams, fillings, coverings and frames) comply with safety standards. Specifically, furniture must pass the ‘cigarette test’. This test proves that covers, foam and lining materials are not likely to go on fire by a lit match or a cigarette. All furniture passing this test should be clearly labelled to indicate that it complies with Irish fire safety laws.
Where to apply