Brexit : Keep our safety legislation!

Support for Regulation

Research finds that there is a high level of support for regulations among younger people that voted to leave the European Union. The majority of respondents expressed a preference for maintaining or increasing regulations across diverse areas of public life. The research indicated strong support for keeping or strengthening EU-derived regulations – both among younger Leave voters who voted Conservative in December 2019, and those who voted Labour.

This public opinion research was carried out by Uchecked.uk to test attitudes to regulation, deregulation and enforcement of regulations among young adults in Great Britain who voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum. We might have expected these voters to have embraced a “bonfire of the regulations” to release businesses from their bureaucratic burdens, as was championed during the Brexit referendum debates. But this is clearly not the reason for them to vote “out”

Wrong Legislation Repealed

Arnold Pindar, NCF Chairman says: “Throughout my career, when dealing with consumer safety, successive governments have tried to find ways of reducing bureaucratic burdens on businesses. However, they appear to always target the wrong legislation to repeal. This and previous research by Unchecked.uk has shown that consumers/voters recognise the need for effective safety legislation. Also, in my long experience, businesses need a ‘level playing field’ of safety legislation that protects them from selling unsafe products but ensures that they can compete fairly in the marketplace.”

During the Brexit debates, David Davies, then Brexit Minister, stated that Brexit must not result in a race to the bottom. To compete in the world markets, the United Kingdom needs to compete on quality, and this also means on safety.

Compete on Quality: No reduction on Safety

From this research and our observations at the NCF, we call on the government:

  • to maintain and where necessary increase regulations to ensure the UK competes on quality and
  • to ensure that there is no reduction in standards of safety as trade deals are negotiated with the European Union, USA and other countries.
The full report is available at Unchecked UK.

Something for our Brussels negotiators to bear in mind if they can tear themselves away from cod (with an extra portion of chips please).

Covid-19 : Trust Us More

The new apps being deployed to trace and track Covid-19 are a chance for more user participation to make the whole tracing scheme more effective. All it takes says Peter Eisenegger who leads for NCF on Consumer Digital Concerns would be a little more functionality and choice for their smart phones.

This would allow us as consumers and citizens to take even more sensible decisions about our behaviours, the precautions we take and co-operation with whatever rules are in force at the time as well as improving the level of uptake of Covid-19 tracing apps.

The key is TO TRUST THE PUBLIC.

More Information

The current strategy, adopted by the Government, has a centralised resource deciding that your Covid-19 contacts are creating risk and that your health conditions make you vulnerable. You are then notified to take care accordingly. This keeps us short of information. The NCF believes that with more processing of our Covid-19 contact data privately on our own phone, giving much more insightful information, we can be empowered to take better care of our own safety, and that of our fellow citizens, so avoiding Covid-19 health problems.

More Suppliers

We would also like to see more than one supplier because in our experience consumers react to a range of choices positively by being readier to buy. One often quoted set of figures took choice from no better than 10% for single choice to 66% combined uptake for a two-choice option between different, but similar, products. We should avoid putting all our eggs in one basket. The special apps could offer benefit both in the home and our workplaces such as schools, care homes, factories, offices and so on.

The more people can adapt the app for their own circumstances the more useful it becomes. This positive experience will then help reduce consumer fear of apps designed for the public good which may seem to seek to pry into and control our lives.

Standards at Home and Abroad

We also have to think internationally for when we can travel abroad again  where we may still need to trace  Covid-19 contacts in the places we visit and  manage the infection risks of such travel. So an additional aid to reassuring us as citizens has to be national and international standards for basic contact information anonymization and sharing between Covid-19 tracing apps to enable communication between different apps/phones/networks.

You can see the full paper here

Going Up – Lift Safety

Fatal Accident

I had just started work, years ago, when a colleague was killed in an accident in one of the lifts serving our civil service building. Several of my colleagues had to give evidence at the Coroner’s Court. The memory has stuck with me but happily, deaths are very rare and lifts are now covered by safety rules for their construction and installation. Nevertheless improvement is still needed and this mini casehistory shows how organisations – often much maligned for their snail-like pace and indifference to consumer detriment – can work together to achieve change for the benefit of consumers – in this case persons with disabilities.

Appealing ANEC

Several NCF members are also members of ANEC, the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation. Although NCF members were not directly involved, ANEC launched in 2017 an appeal in CEN (the European Standards Organisation), against the standard EN 81-70 ‘Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lift – Part 70: Accessibility to lifts for persons including persons with disability’ because of inadequate requirements for the colour contrast of buttons in the control panels of lifts. After almost three years of discussions, we are delighted a solution to the appeal has now been reached.

European Commission Rejects Standard

Due to an uncertain start in the discussions to resolve the appeal, despite the creation of a dedicated working group, ANEC wrote to the European Commission to express the view that EN 81-70 did not meet the essential health & safety requirements of the European Directive 2014/33/EU on lifts and the related Mandate to improve certain safety measures. With the support of the European Blind Union and European Disability Forum, ANEC opposed the standard being recognised as meeting the requirements of the Directive. Indeed, the European Commission decided to reject EN 81-70 as a Harmonised Standard because of several issues demonstrating non-compliance with the Mandate and the drafting rules for standards. Other lifts standards were also rejected.

The European Commission stressed that Harmonised Standards for lifts and safety components for lifts, while ensuring a high level of protection of health and safety of persons, must take into account usability and accessibility in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Solution Acceptable to All

We welcome that the discussions since have led to a solution acceptable to all parties and supported by the European Standards Organisation’s Technical Board. We welcome its instruction to the Technical Committee for Lifts to start an immediate revision of EN 81-70 in order to implement the technical agreement.

 

 

 

In Action

Meeting consumer needs when developing service standards – an ISO/IEC guide

In ActionOut on a Highnote

Arnold Pindar NCF Chairman writes: I take great satisfaction from seeing the revision of ISO/IEC[1] GUIDE 76:2020 through to publication. It is a good note on which to end more than 20 years work with ISO/COPOLCO. I joined in 1997 and chaired their Priorities Committee for five years.

 The revised Guide  provides guidance on how to meet the needs of consumers in the development of service standards. It can be used by anyone involved in the development of service standards and can be applied to any service.

Relevant to full range of services

This extensive revision is relevant to the full range of services, whether or not a formal contract is entered into or purchase price paid. It also has relevance for public or charitable services, e.g. education, health and care provision, where a financial transaction has not necessarily taken place.

Consumer Interests fully covered

Consumer organisations do not have the resources to send representatives to every standard’s technical committee and working group that is developing standards for services.  Hence, this Guide is an important tool to fill this gap, providing essential information to these committees to ensure consumer interests are fully covered in the published standards.

Focused on the fundamental consumer rights, this revision simplifies the previous version to encourage greater take up by standards developers throughout the world.

We particularly thank NCF collaborators Julie Hunter and Gretel Jones for their considerable contributions to the revision of the Guide.

Acronyms explained:

ISO/IEC: International Organisation for Standardisation / International Electrotechnical Commission

ISO/COPOLCO WG18: The International Organisation for Standardisation’s Committee on Consumer Policy, Working Group 18 – Consumer Issues in Services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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