Cooke & Lewis Freestanding Slimline Dishwasher Recall

ELECTRICAL PRODUCT RECALL ALERT

Product details: Cooke & Lewis freestanding slimline dishwasher 

For full details, including affected model numbers and manufacturer’s advice, click here.

Reason for recall: Components may overheat, posing a risk of fire

Models Affected: CLDW451W-C / DI6014  Barcode: 5052931055623 Cooke & Lewis white freestanding slimline dishwashers sold by B&Q

What to do next

If you have an affected product please stop using it immediately and unplug.  Call the helpline below for assistance and next steps:

UK: 0300 303 4482 

Helpline hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am–8pm, Saturday 9am–5pm and Sunday 10am–4pm

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Bush tumble dryer Safety notice

BushFollowing consultation with Milton Keynes Trading Standards, the Bush brand of Tumble Dryer, sold exclusively by Argos have decided to issue additional safety information on the installation, use and maintenance of these affected models:-

Bush Tumble Dryer
Bush TDV6B Tumble Dryer
  • Bush TDV6B 6KG (1288010)
  • Bush TDV6S 6KG (7642966)
  • Bush TDV6B 6KG (1292051)
  • Bush V7SDB 7KG (5386073)
  • Bush TDV6B 6KG (1737901)
  • Bush V7SDB 7KG (5435010)
  • Bush TDV6W 6KG (4810722)
  • Bush V7SDW 7KG (5480948)
  • Bush TDV6W 6KG (7642382)
  • Bush V7SDS 7KG (5496011)
  • Bush TDV6W 6KG (7642399
  • Bush V7SDW 7KG (5586282)
  • Bush TDV6S 6KG (7642959)
  • Bush V6SDW 6KG (4281571)
  • Bush V6SDB 6KG (4287104)
  • Bush V6SDW 6KG (4278041)
  • Bush V6SDS 6KG (4278216)

The main points to remember are as follows: Any restriction in air flow will lead to a potential build up of lint, which in-turn can lead to the lint coming loose and igniting on the heating element.

To prevent this ensure that:

  1. The lint filter found inside the door area must be emptied EVERY TIME the Tumble Dryer is used.
  2. If it is a vented Tumble Dryer that a minimum distance from the wall and the back of the tumble dryer of 10cm (100mm) is left to prevent the vent hose from being crushed.
  3. Also and interestingly not mentioned in the safety notice, If the vent hose is connected to the wall that this vent to the out side is checked and cleaned out at least twice a year.
  4. Do not over load the Tumble Dryer and check fabrics are suitable for the temperature the dryer
  5. Its location, Any tumble dryer should only be installed in a damp free and clean environment. Every dryer sucks in air from its surrounding environment. If there is leaf, pet hair or dust, this will be sucked in and over the heating element, which has the potential to ignite.

Argos can be contacted on 0345 257 7271 or on there web site at www.argos.co.uk/events/safety-products-recalls

The advice from Argos is relevant for any make and model of Tumble Dryer and by following these simple steps the majority of dryer related fires could be eliminated. Facts about Tumble Dryer Fires

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Know your pension options

Your pension options?

self-employed-pensions-government-boostIn the Governments Autumn Budget, they committed to making it easier for people to save at all stages your life.

Specifically, the Department for Work and Pensions highlighted “boosting pensions for the self-employed”. As part of that commitment, they are due to publish a paper that lays out the government’s approach to “increasing pension participation and savings persistency among the self-employed.”

Whoever; what does that mean in practice, and how can the government and the self-employed apply this in there business? Here are five options – see if there’s a way you can get a head-start.

Self-employed pensions options boost – 5 ways to do it

1. The ‘sidecar’ pension Option

In 2017 the Government reviewed whether auto-enrolment will work for the self-employed, and ultimately they concluded there’s no clear way it could. In the Autumn Budget, they suggested their focus may instead be on “a programme of targeted interventions and partnerships.”

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-employed (IPSE) gives an alternative to auto-enrolment – the ‘sidecar’ pension.

This option works by diverting money into both a pension and a savings account. Essentially they’re both separate ‘jars’ and it could give the self-employed more flexibility over how they use their money.

It would be possible to use the savings jar in emergencies, so this could be a more attractive option if and when you need easy access to your money.

National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) are trialling the sidecar option for the employed and workplace savings, so it could be an option for the self-employed sooner rather than later.

2. Make sure you think about pension option planning

Government guidance not tailored to self-employed pensions

The government’s ‘targeted interventions and partnerships’ could lead to more tailored guidance for the self-employed.

With guidance currently tailored to employees, those that are self-employed might be hoping that the government’s commitment leads to more help with pension planning in the future.

What should the self-employed think about now? It’s a good idea to consider all of your options for saving, including ISAs, which often give you more flexible access to your money if you need it in an emergency. You can save up to £20,000 tax-free in ISAs in 2018-19.

The government’s also introduced schemes like the Lifetime ISA and the Help to Buy ISA, which give you a bonus on top of your savings.

Plus, while advice doesn’t always come cheap, professional advisers will help you come up with an overall plan for your future. IPSE have identified the cost of advice as a barrier for the self-employed, so the government could focus on breaking down that barrier with its interventions and partnerships.

3. Remember the tax relief in pension options

Tax relief is probably the best thing about a pension – you can get tax relief on contributions of up to 100 per cent of your annual earnings, or the £40,000 annual allowance, whichever is lower.

When basic rate taxpayers contribute to their pension, the government adds back the 20 per cent that’s usually deducted from their earnings.

But IPSE says that in focus groups, people say they don’t know what tax reliefs are available, so keeping tax-efficiency in mind could give the self-employed more incentive to save into a pension.

IPSE also recommends that the government further communicates the tax incentives available to encourage saving.

4. The mid-life MOT for pension options

As people live longer and the state pension age increases, a report by the Centre for Ageing Better has revealed that there’s strong appetite for a ‘mid-life MOT.’

Aviva, Legal and General (L&G), Mercer and The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) have all piloted their versions of the scheme, which include one-to-one advice, as well as online and group seminars.

The report says that demand for this kind of scheme was high, with organisations adding more sessions to accommodate people signing up.

If you’re in your 40s or 50s, taking stock of your finances now and planning for the future should help you lead a great retirement. With schemes like the mid-life MOT, the self-employed should have easier access to advice and guidance.

5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

It’s important that you don’t rely on just one asset to fund your retirement. Whether that’s the sale of your business or the money tied up in your house, effective pension planning should make sure you’ve got a diverse range of assets to see you through when you stop working.

As mentioned in point two, professional advice here can help. A good plan will factor in particular assets, while also working out how to diversify your pension pot so you don’t just rely on one source.

Advise courtesy of Simply Business.

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The Grenfell Tower fire

The enquiry, following the fire in Grenfell Tower which tragically killed 72 people, has heard that the ignition point was probably caused by a poor connection on a Hotpoint FF175BP Fridge Freezer.

 

Dr John Duncan Glover concluded that last year’s June 14th fire probably began in the Hotpoint FF175BP in the kitchen of Flat 16.

 

A public inquiry into the disaster, was on Tuesday shown a picture of the connector thought to have overheated and started the fire.

Investigators recovered the evidence from the relay compressor compartment at the rear of the fridge freezer.

 

Electrical fire expert Dr Glover highlighted the “poor crimp connection”, which increased the resistance across its connection creating heat.

The principal engineer at Failure Electrical, a firm which investigates electrical failures, said spaces seen in images taken from CT scans indicated it had not been “properly crimped”.

“I found voids in all 80 cross-sections indicating the crimp was not nice and tight,” he said.

 

In a report prepared for the inquiry Dr Glover concluded: “A probable cause of the fire is a poor crimp connection for… an overheated wire connector within the compressor relay compartment for the fridge freezer (Hotpoint Model FF175BP) from Flat 16.”

He said: “The overheating connector in my opinion was the first event that started burning the insulation on the wires that led to a short circuit.”

Dr Glover added: “The overheating of the crimp starts the fire.

“It overheats, it glows, it ignites.”

A spokesperson for Whirlpool said: “We are committed to assisting the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in any way we can as it continues to investigate all the potential origins and causes of the fire and how it spread.

“Separately, we would like to reassure owners of these products that they are safe and they can continue to use them as normal.

“Nothing matters more to us than people’s safety. That’s why as soon as we were made aware of this incident, we launched an investigation into the model of fridge freezer that was said to have been involved.

 

“Two separate investigations have been carried out – one by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and another by Whirlpool. Both investigations independently found no evidence of any fault with this model and confirmed that it fully complied with all safety requirements. These conclusions have also been verified by the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

“All fridges, freezers, and fridge freezers across all our UK brands – including Hotpoint, Indesit and Whirlpool – are manufactured with solid metal or aluminium laminate flame-retardant back panels.”

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ASWO UK new appointment

 Nick Viney, previously from Hoover Candy as European Key Account Manager and Whirlpool as Spares Sales Manager, has joined AWSO UK as Head of Sales, his role will include looking after key accounts and business development with trade customers and manufacturers across the domestic appliance, consumer electronics, IT, Telecoms and Home Automation sectors.

ASWO is one of Europes main spare parts distributors and as part of their growth plans are making inroads into the UK and Irish markets offering an exclusive business to business approach to sales. This refreshing approach will rival the likes of Connect Distribution and Qualtex who both offer B2B and B2C spares.

He commented: “I am delighted to join ASWO, a company that I have admired and respected for some time, using my industry knowledge combined with the unique business to business only, partnership approach, it really is the perfect timing for ASWO to become a key player in after sales service in the UK and Ireland.”

An account can be opened through there web site shopuk.aswo.com or by calling 0808 234 3136

www.aswo.com

 

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Electronic waste, is it a ticking time bomb?

According to reports e-waste (electronic waste) is estimated to reach a record high in 2018.

An estimated 50 million metric tonnes, according to Statista, of toxic e-waste will be produced.

With populations growing and the average life span of electronic goods decreasing, the e-waste that is generated is steadily increasing.

Supermarket pricing has to some degree added to the situation as budget brands on white goods have become un economical to repair with consumers opting to replace rather than investigate the repair which is a shame as often the repair can be as simple as a blocked drain pump.

The up side to this is any recycler that has invested in re-use gain an appliance that can be put back onto the market for very little cost.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) stated that reducing the lifespan of a product companies may drive sales, but this comes at the expense of citizens and the planet. #RightToRepair

The EEB launched a short film today to highlight the problem and urge EU governments to pass proposed laws that would oblige manufacturers to make products more durable and more easily repairable.

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations with around 140 members in over 30 countries.

The Right to Repair and other such campaigns may be the only way in which an environmental disaster can be everted.

Manufactures will need to get on board making products to last rather than designing them to fail in favour of profit.

We as consumers have the power to make a difference by only purchasing appliances that have a reputation for lasting and investing in repairs and performing preventative maintenance. The investment in a more expensive appliance can often work out cheaper in the long run as they are less likely to fail early.

Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, a product policy and circular economy officer with the EEB, said:

“E-waste is the next big environmental challenge in today’s digital society – a time bomb waiting to explode.

As recyclers struggle to deal with the growing amount of waste, our smartphones and white goods are buried in landfills or illegally exported to developing countries where they are often treated in informal or dangerous conditions.

Toxic chemicals contained in these products can easily leak in the environment and have even been found recycled products such as children’s toys.

Manufacturers must embrace eco-design so that the generation of e-waste is minimised in the first place and their products can be easily repaired.”

The EEB joins thousands of activists and independent repairers across the world in celebrating International Repair Day (October 20). Learn more about how we’re fighting for people’s ‘right to repair’.

Key facts

  • Toxic chemicals contained in e-waste may leak in the environment, posing ‘a major threat to human health’ said the United Nations.
  • Flame retardants have been found in children’s toys and consumer goods made from recycled plastics, a new study revealed this week.
  • E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream, accounting for 70% of the toxic waste in US landfills. The United Nations has denounced its improper and unsafe treatment and disposal.
  • Only 20% of global e-waste is recycled. Much of the waste produced in Europe continues to be exported illegally to Africa and Asia, where it is recycled in informal and dangerous conditions.
  • 77% of EU consumers would rather repair their goods than buy new ones (Eurobarometer 2014).
  • Computers, screens, smartphones, tablets and TVs account for half of the global e-waste. The remainder is larger household appliances, heating and cooling equipment or other commercial e-waste.

What are governments and the EU doing?

  • The European Commission has proposed rules for manufacturers to make our gadgets and home appliances more durable and easily repairable. The European Parliament has also urged governments to take those provisions on board as soon as possible.
  • The proposed laws would require that products can be disassembled and reassembled again with designs that allow an easy access to the parts that could break. They would also require manufacturers to make replacement parts, instructions and tools available, while special provisions would improve durability and recycling. For now they mostly concern dishwashers, washing machines, fridges, lights, TVs, displays and servers.
  • EU governments are expected to either accept or reject these laws by the end of the year. Some countries are already set to oppose the proposed laws, NGOs revealed in September.

Will change happen?  Not if big business gets its way

Can we make a difference? Yes, by the way we approach purchases, repairs and reducing the e-waste and waste in general we produce.

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Causes of dwelling fires and fire-related fatalities

The following are some extracts from the Home Office report on house fires for April 2017 – March 2018. Its interesting to note that tumble dryers don’ get an individual mention but will be classified in with “other domestic Appliances” Cooking however is highlighted as being by far the main cause of domestic house fires.

The full report can be found here: Detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services, England, April 2017 to March 2018

Since 2010/11, the number of accidental dwelling fires has decreased by 13 per cent. This is in part due to a 16 per cent decrease (between 2010/11 and 2017/18) in fires where the ignition source was “cooking appliances”, as these make up around half of all accidental dwelling fires. Other ignition types that have contributed to the decrease include “space heating appliances” and “central and water heating appliances” (a decrease of 27% and 26% over the same time period, respectively). (Source: FIRE0602). Figure 6.1 shows the proportion of accidental dwelling fires, and their resulting non-fatal casualties and fire-related fatalities, attributable to different sources of ignition. 16 It shows that while some ignition sources cause many fires, they often result in relatively few fire-related fatalities, and vice versa.17 Specifically:

• Cooking appliances were by far the largest ignition category for accidental dwelling fires and non-fatal casualties from accidental dwelling fires, accounting for 48 per cent of these incidents each in 2017/18. In contrast, cooking appliances were the source of ignition in only seven per cent of accidental dwelling fire-related fatalities.

• Smokers’ materials (such as lighters, cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco) were the source of ignition in seven per cent of accidental dwelling fires and nine per cent of accidental dwelling fire non-fatal casualties in 2017/18. In contrast, smokers’ materials were the source of ignition in 20 per cent of fire-related fatalities in accidental dwelling fires in 2017/18.

• In previous years, smoker’s materials have been by far the largest ignition category involved in accidental dwelling fire-related fatalities. However, ‘Other electrical appliances’ was the largest category in 2017/18 due to the Grenfell Tower fire (specifically a fridge freezer which was recorded as the source of ignition for the fire) accounting for 34 per cent of fire-related fatalities in accidental dwelling fires. (Source: FIRE0602).

Main cause of, and material mainly responsible for, dwelling fires Exactly how a fire originated, and then the material which was mainly responsible for it spreading, are both important determinants in the outcomes of fires. Notably, and similarly to sources of ignition, above, the most common causes and materials responsible for the spread of fires are not those that lead to the greatest proportion of fire-related fatalities. Specifically: •

Of the 27,621 accidental dwelling fires in 2017/18, 34 per cent were caused by “misuse of equipment or appliances” (see figure 6.2 below), similar to the 35 per cent in 2016/17. The second largest cause category was “faulty appliances and leads” which caused 16 per cent of all accidental dwelling fires. (Source: FIRE0601)

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UK Government Launches New Product Safety Strategy

The Office for Product Safety and Standards was created in January 2018 by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to enhance protections for consumers and the environment and drive increased productivity, growth and business confidence.

The Office takes forward the work of the previous Regulatory Delivery directorate, including Primary Authority and the Regulators’ Code.

We are responsible for building national capacity for product safety and for the development of products that support small business growth and implement the Industrial Strategy vision of simplifying regulation.

We work at the front line with businesses, local and national regulators and consumers to improve regulatory protections and support compliant businesses.

Kelly Tolhurst, The MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS, CONSUMERS AND CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY says in her opening comments to the Product safety Strategy:

I am pleased to present the first strategy from the Office for Product Safety and Standards. This is an important milestone in our work to enhance and strengthen protections from unsafe goods and the harm they can inflict.

The safety of individuals, families and communities is a top priority for Government. As the new Minister with responsibility for product safety, I am looking forward to working with all of our partners to ensure that everyone can continue to buy and use goods with confidence, today and tomorrow. I want to see an approach to product safety regulation that equips the UK for the future, that embraces all the opportunity that innovation and technology brings us. We need to be thinking not only about the challenges of now but where our economy and our society will be in ten or twenty years, as part of delivering the critical ambitions of the Industrial Strategy.

We already have good protections in place and a healthy business environment that supports enterprise. But we must not be complacent – we must ensure that our approach to regulation responds to changing needs whilst delivering the safety outcomes that every citizen expects. This can only be achieved through determined action and a shared commitment to doing the things that matter, that drive change, and that improve outcomes. This includes firm action to tackle those who endanger the public, using the full suite of tools and powers available.

We have already seen the impact of committed partnership through the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety – whose powerful recommendations laid the foundation for the Office – and I would like to thank the group for their contribution. I fully believe that collaboration and partnership will be key to delivering the aims set out in these pages.

The potential of increased national capacity for product safety is already being unlocked through the early actions of the Office and its partners – including the publication of the first Code of Practice for recalls and corrective action with the British Standards Institution and dedicated training for hundreds of front line officers, working with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. Strengthening national capacity for product safety: Strategy 2018-2020 Page 3 of 31

Alongside this strategy, I am publishing a number of related documents. These include the first Delivery Plan for the Office, setting out its priority actions, an Incident Management Plan and a Strategic Research Programme. These build on early progress to provide the firm foundations needed to prepare us for the future. They show our commitment to delivering a trusted product safety system with protection, fairness and competition at its heart. 

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Government rejects F-gas concerns

The UK government insists it will maintain the HFC phase down post-Brexit. Claims that the Environment Agency does not have the adequate resources to tackle compliance have been ignored.

Published today, the government’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee report on the UK’s progress on reducing F-gas emissions has also dismissed calls to reform the renewable heat incentive to encourage the use of low GWP refrigerants in heat pumps.

Industry concerns over non-compliance and whether the Environment Agency (EA) had the necessary resources available to tackle illegal refrigerant sales were also side-stepped in the government’s response.

The Environmental Audit Committee, which called on submissions from the UK air conditioning and refrigeration industry, found that the UK could go further to reduce F-gas emissions.

Commenting on the government’s response, Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “While the government was positive about many of our recommendations, we are disappointed it has not shown more urgency and set out clear targets and a timeframe for achieving them. The government can and should do more.”

Faced with evidence of illegal activities, particularly on the internet, the audit committee questioned whether the Environment Agency had adequate resources to tackle the problem. It pointed to the low number of investigations and the single prosecution for a self-reported breach since the beginning of 2015, and asked for DEFRA and the Environment Agency to publish plans for monitoring non-compliance, especially on social media sites.

Basing its reply on a recent European Commission report which found no large scale illegal trade in HFCs, the government said that this indicated that “compliance with the HFC phase down was generally good and the main environmental outcomes are being achieved”.

It explains that the Environment Agency focuses on bringing organisations into compliance by using enforcement notices, advice, awareness campaigns and guidance to make businesses aware of their obligations.

“The number of prosecutions is not, therefore, necessarily a good indicator of the effectiveness of compliance work,” the government says in its response.

The government also maintained that the EA monitors sales on online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon on a daily basis. In the event of any products being sold in breach of the regulations, it said the EA works with the online platform to have them removed. It also insisted that the EA also carries out intelligence led investigations into non-compliance, whether that be at physical locations or via the internet.

There has also been previous concerns over a disconnect between the customs authorities and the F-gas quota system and more recent evidence of a rise in the amount of refrigerant entering the country in illegal disposable cylinders.

In its report, the Environmental Audit Committee asked the government how it would ensure with HMRC that there are no weaknesses in the F-gas regime now and after the UK leaves the EU.

The government insists that the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations 2018 give HMRC the ability to share information with the Environment Agency about imports. It says: “The EA will use this data to target products from outside the EU that breach the regulations.”

It also declined to publish details of how the EA monitors and investigates non-compliance “as publicising these techniques could undermine their effectiveness, making it harder to enforce the Regulation”.

Car air conditioning top-ups

The anomaly of the general public being able to buy F-gas to top-up car air conditioning systems was also raised again. The Environmental Audit Committee insisted that only qualified persons should be able to handle F-gases. The legal availability of high GWP HFCs for the unsupervised top-up of car air conditioning units risked undermining the system, it said, with illegal activities putting responsible businesses at a disadvantage and endangering consumers if refrigerants were used inappropriately, such as flammable HFCs being applied to systems designed for low flammable HFCs.

The government pointed out that EU legislation does not prohibit these sales to members of the public as long as they use refillable and returnable containers and do not remove refrigerant from the system. It also felt that as all new cars must now use low GWP refrigerants the use of high GWP top-up kits would decline over time.

Despite evidence of flammable hydrocarbons being openly sold as top-up gas for R134a in car air conditioning systems, the government also insists: “The safety of consumer goods is regulated and enforced by local authority Trading Standards services, with the support of the Office for Product Safety and Standards.” 

The committee was keen for the government to encourage the use of low GWP refrigerants in heat pumps by reforming the renewable heat incentive schemes. The government accepted that heat pumps play an increasingly important environmental role but argued that the F-gas quota cuts were already driving industry to look for low GWP alternatives for heat pumps. It felt that any additional measures to reduce the use of high GWP refrigerants must not hinder heat pump uptake as that would be counter-productive for the environment.

the Environmental Audit Committee report on the UK’s progress on reducing F-gas emissions has also dismissed calls to reform the renewable heat incentive to encourage the use of low GWP refrigerants in heat pumps.

Industry concerns over non-compliance and whether the Environment Agency (EA) had the necessary resources available to tackle illegal refrigerant sales were also side-stepped in the government’s response.

The Environmental Audit Committee, which called on submissions from the UK air conditioning and refrigeration industry, found that the UK could go further to reduce F-gas emissions.

Commenting on the government’s response, Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “While the government was positive about many of our recommendations, we are disappointed it has not shown more urgency and set out clear targets and a timeframe for achieving them. The government can and should do more.”

Faced with evidence of illegal activities, particularly on the internet, the audit committee questioned whether the Environment Agency had adequate resources to tackle the problem. It pointed to the low number of investigations and the single prosecution for a self-reported breach since the beginning of 2015, and asked for DEFRA and the Environment Agency to publish plans for monitoring non-compliance, especially on social media sites.

Basing its reply on a recent European Commission report which found no large scale illegal trade in HFCs, the government said that this indicated that “compliance with the HFC phase down was generally good and the main environmental outcomes are being achieved”.

It explains that the Environment Agency focuses on bringing organisations into compliance by using enforcement notices, advice, awareness campaigns and guidance to make businesses aware of their obligations.

“The number of prosecutions is not, therefore, necessarily a good indicator of the effectiveness of compliance work,” the government says in its response.

The government also maintained that the EA monitors sales on online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon on a daily basis. In the event of any products being sold in breach of the regulations, it said the EA works with the online platform to have them removed. It also insisted that the EA also carries out intelligence led investigations into non-compliance, whether that be at physical locations or via the internet.

There has also been previous concerns over a disconnect between the customs authorities and the F-gas quota system and more recent evidence of a rise in the amount of refrigerant entering the country in illegal disposable cylinders.

In its report, the Environmental Audit Committee asked the government how it would ensure with HMRC that there are no weaknesses in the F-gas regime now and after the UK leaves the EU.

The government insists that the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations 2018 give HMRC the ability to share information with the Environment Agency about imports. It says: “The EA will use this data to target products from outside the EU that breach the regulations.”

It also declined to publish details of how the EA monitors and investigates non-compliance “as publicising these techniques could undermine their effectiveness, making it harder to enforce the Regulation”.

Car air conditioning top-ups

The anomaly of the general public being able to buy F-gas to top-up car air conditioning systems was also raised again. The Environmental Audit Committee insisted that only qualified persons should be able to handle F-gases. The legal availability of high GWP HFCs for the unsupervised top-up of car air conditioning units risked undermining the system, it said, with illegal activities putting responsible businesses at a disadvantage and endangering consumers if refrigerants were used inappropriately, such as flammable HFCs being applied to systems designed for low flammable HFCs.

The government pointed out that EU legislation does not prohibit these sales to members of the public as long as they use refillable and returnable containers and do not remove refrigerant from the system. It also felt that as all new cars must now use low GWP refrigerants the use of high GWP top-up kits would decline over time.

Despite evidence of flammable hydrocarbons being openly sold as top-up gas for R134a in car air conditioning systems, the government also insists: “The safety of consumer goods is regulated and enforced by local authority Trading Standards services, with the support of the Office for Product Safety and Standards.” 

The committee was keen for the government to encourage the use of low GWP refrigerants in heat pumps by reforming the renewable heat incentive schemes. The government accepted that heat pumps play an increasingly important environmental role but argued that the F-gas quota cuts were already driving industry to look for low GWP alternatives for heat pumps. It felt that any additional measures to reduce the use of high GWP refrigerants must not hinder heat pump uptake as that would be counter-productive for the environment.

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GDPR for small business

 With the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now in place, the UK will see tougher fines and stricter regulations, across all industries. GDPR regulation for small businesses is a hot topic, but are you complying with the changes?

Read our GDPR key points for small businesses and get clear on your responsibilities.

The GDPR deadline was 25 May 2018

Before we get into the detail of GDPR and what it means for your small business, it’s worth making a note of the key things you’ll need to keep an eye on and action. Bear in mind that the changes came into effect on 25 May 2018.

Here’s our quick definition and overview, followed by a checklist to keep handy.

What is GDPR?

What does GDPR stand for: a meaning and definition

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR for short) is built around two key principles.

  1. Giving citizens and residents more control of their personal data
  2. Simplifying regulations for international businesses with a unifying regulation that stands across the European Union (EU)

It’s important to bear in mind that the GDPR applies to any business established in the EU and may apply to companies based outside of the EU that process the personal data of EU citizens in certain circumstances. See the GDPR checklist below for information on what ‘personal data’ includes.

The government has confirmed that Brexit will not affect GDPR, or its immediate running. It’s also confirmed that post-Brexit, the UK’s own law (or a newly-proposed Data Protection Act) will directly mirror the GDPR.

GDPR overview

  • Businesses whose activities involve ‘regular or systematic’ monitoring of data subjects on a large scale (in other words processing extensive personal information), or which involve processing large volumes of ‘special category data’ must employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO). Their role will be to ensure the company complies with the obligations under the GDPR. They’ll also be the contact for any data protection queries
  • The GDPR may apply to any business that processes the personal data of EU citizens, including those with fewer than 250 employees (contrary to common misunderstanding).

Serious breaches (that is, any breach which has an impact on the rights of data subjects) must be reported to the regulator (in the UK this is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)). This should be within 24 hours where possible, but at least within 72 hours and the report must include information regarding what led to the breach, how it is being contained and planned next steps

  • Individuals will have more rights on how businesses use their data. In some instances, they have the ‘right to be forgotten’ if they no longer want you to process their personal data and you have no other legal grounds (for example the individual is no longer a customer so your contract with them no longer gives you a legal right) to keep the data
  • Failure to comply will result in harsher penalties. Before, the ICO could fine up to £500,000 but the GDPR allows fines of up to €20 million, or four per cent of annual turnover, whichever is higher

GDPR checklist for UK small businesses

Remember, your checklist needs to take into account past and present employees and suppliers as well as customers (and anyone else’s data you’re processing which includes collecting, recording, storing and using the personal data in any way).

  1. Know your data. You need to demonstrate an understanding of the types of personal data (for example name, address, email, bank details, photos, IP addresses) and sensitive (or special category) data (for example health details or religious views) you hold, where they’re coming from, where they’re going and how you’re using that data.
  2. Identify whether you’re relying on consent to process personal data. If you are (for example, as part of your marketing), these activities are more difficult under the GDPR because the consent needs to be clear, specific and explicit. For this reason, you should avoid relying on consent unless absolutely necessary.
  3. Look hard at your security measures and policies. You need to update these to be GDPR-compliant, and if you don’t currently have any, get them in place. Broad use of encryption could be a good way to reduce the likelihood of a big penalty in the event of a breach.
  4. Prepare to meet access requests within a one-month timeframe. Subject Access Rights are changing, and under the GDPR, citizens have the right to access all of their personal data, rectify anything that’s inaccurate and object to processing in certain circumstances, or completely erase all of their personal data that you may hold. Each request carries a timeframe and deadline of one month (which can only be extended in mitigating circumstances), from the original date of request.
  5. Train your employees, and report a serious breach within 72 hours. Ensure your employees understand what constitutes a personal data breach and build processes to pick up any red flags. It’s also important that everybody involved in your business is aware of a need to report any mistakes to the DPO or the person or team responsible for data protection compliance, as this is the most common cause of a data breach.
  6. Conduct due-diligence on your supply chain. You should ensure that all suppliers and contractors are GDPR-compliant to avoid being impacted by any breaches and consequent penalties. You also need to ensure you have the right contract terms in place with suppliers (which puts important obligations on them, such as the need to notify you promptly if they have a data breach). See ‘How can I check my suppliers are GDPR-compliant?’ further down.
  7. Create fair processing notices. Under GDPR, you’re required to describe to individuals what you’re doing with their personal data. See ‘Fair processing notices’ below for more information.
  8. Decide whether you need to employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO). Most small businesses will be exempt. However, if your company’s core activities involve ‘regular or systematic’ monitoring of data subjects on a large scale, or which involve processing large volumes of ‘special category data’ (see ‘Is my data sensitive?’ below) you must employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO).

What constitutes ‘large-scale’ data processing?

The GDPR doesn’t yet fully define what constitutes ‘large-scale’, but some examples include the processing of patient data by hospitals, travel data and transport services, and customer data by an insurance company or bank.

Hanging on to old data?

One of the key principles of GDPR is to require companies not to hold on to personal data for longer than necessary, or process it for purposes that the individual isn’t aware of. Identifying your data categories – what personal data you have, and why – will be very helpful in ensuring you’re compliant with the GDPR.

How does the GDPR define ‘consent’?

Customer or individual ‘consent’ has been redefined and has become much tighter as a result. On top of this, requests for consent can no longer be hidden in small print but must be presented clearly, and separately to other policies on your website or communications – so no more pre-ticked boxes.

Consent may not be required for pre-existing personal data, as long as you have a legal basis that’s compliant with the current legislation (the DPA).

The principle here is that inactivity is no longer a legitimate way to confirm consent. Remember, this applies to you too, as a consumer with personal data rights of your own, and may be a welcome change!

Fair processing notices

It may sound complicated, but a fair processing notice is about giving people clear information about what you’re doing with their personal data. Your fair processing notice should describe:

  • why you’re processing their personal data (the purpose), including the legal basis you have, such as consent (check the ICO’s privacy notices page for more information)
  • the categories of recipients you may be sending the personal data to (customer, employee, supplier, etc)
  • how long you’ll be holding onto the data (the ‘retention’ period’), or the criteria used to determine these time periods

You’ll also need to notify individuals of the existence of their personal data rights.

GDPR is so complicated – why should I care?

It’s easy for small companies with a stack of to-dos to see the GDPR as a burden. But in reality, it’s something that can be used to your advantage, adding value to your business.

By proving to potential and existing customers that your organisation is compliant with new laws that protect the rights of citizens just like you (and your customers), you could bring in more business.

No one likes having their data lost, stolen, damaged, misused, or shared without proper consent, and doing everything you can to protect your customers and grow their trust could be a unique selling point.

So, from fines to compensation claims, there are certainly serious reasons to get GDPR-compliant. But on a real-world level, see it as being worth your while to get organised behind the scenes, earn your customers’ trust, and be the company that respects personal data, rather than letting it sit on a long-forgotten spreadsheet.

Does GDPR apply to my business?

It’s important to bear in mind that the GDPR applies to any business established in the EU and may apply to companies based outside of the EU that process the personal data of EU citizens in certain circumstances

So the first question you need to ask yourself is, how often does your business deal with personal data? This includes your customer data of course, but have you factored in supplier data? Past and present employees? And is there anything else you’ve collected, that doesn’t fall into any of these groups?

If you’re collecting any of this data routinely, you need to comply with the GDPR, whether the data is on a spreadsheet, on your computer network, your mobile phone, or in the cloud.

Another key question is whether your business currently falls under the DPA. If so, the ICO has confirmed that the GDPR applies to you, but remember, the GDPR is much stricter than the DPA.

I employ fewer than 250 people. What should I do?

Being a small business doesn’t mean you fall out of the GDPR scope. It’s recognised that small businesses have fewer resources and pose less of a risk to data protection, so there may be more leniency by the ICO in relation to any non-compliance.

However, you’ll still want to ensure you’re compliant with the principles of the GDPR. This is because your business must still comply if it’s involved in regular processing (which includes collecting, storing and using) of personal data. It’s easier to follow the GDPR and get compliant, than to spend time figuring out how you can avoid complying, especially if you’re working without legal guidance.

It’s also important to note that even if your company falls under one of the exemptions, if you’re contracting with a larger company that conducts large-scale processing you may also be subject to the harsher end of the GDPR’s regulation.

Aside from the law, responsible data handling is a basic principle of good business upkeep. If you’re a one-person band but aware that your records are a bit all over the place, have you thought about how you’d explain a breach to your trusted customers?

What data does the GDPR legislation apply to?

You’ll see a lot about ‘personal data’ when reading up on the GDPR. It’s now got a more detailed definition, and the regulation has clarified that things like an IP address (the unique string of numbers that identifies every Internet-communicating computer) count as personal data. There are lots of other things though that will fall into the personal data category, so make sure you’ve checked the GDPR itself (using the handy links at the end of this article).

Quick check: Focus on your lists. Does your business hold HR records, customer lists and contact detail records, for example? Most do.

This is confirmed by the ico.org.uk, who state; “You can assume that if you hold information that falls within the scope of the DPA, it will also fall within the scope of the GDPR”.

Manual vs. auto-filing

Whether it’s you keeping a spreadsheet of customer contact details, or an automated digital capture system, the GDPR will apply.

Is your data ‘sensitive’?

Article 9 in the GDPR defines ‘special categories of personal data’ and this includes personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership. They also cover genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health and data concerning a person’s sex life or sexual orientation. Generally, you’ll need explicit consent from individuals whose special category personal data you want to process, although Article 9 sets out a number of exceptions to this rule.

How is the GDPR law different from the DPA?

There are similarities between the GDPR and current Data Protection Act (DPA). However, crucial developments and rulings within the GDPR mean you’ll need to get clear on the new legislation, whether you’re up-to-date with the DPA or not.

The GDPR changes your accountability

One thing that really sets the GDPR apart is the changes made to the ‘accountability’ of data processors. This is a change from under the DPA, which placed more responsibility on the data controller (note, it’s still worth brushing up on your DPA compliance, as lots of its basic principles are pretty much repeated in the GDPR).

These are basic principles you’ll need to think about. Don’t get too hung up on whether you’re a controller or processor as both parties are required to make changes in order to comply with GDPR. At this stage, the key thing is to think about the personal data your small business collects, holds, uses, and shares, and how confident you are that the new principles hold true.

Am I a data controller or a data processor?

The GDPR applies to data ‘controllers’ and ‘processors’. In general, processing is defined as any operation performed on personal data, such as storing, collecting, recording, organising, sharing, erasure, consulting, etc. A controller is a data processor too, but they will also decide the purpose of the data processing activities.

For example, if you’re a small business offering a plumbing service and your customer details are managed using a contacts management app on your phone, hosted by a third party, this would generally make you the controller and the third party the processor. If on the other hand, you manage all of your data on a spreadsheet you’ve built yourself, you’re both controller and processor.

If you’re a data processor

For processors, the GDPR carries a specific set of legal obligations some of which require you to:

  • keep up-to-date personal data records and details of your processing activities and categories, including details of your ‘data subject categories’ (customers, employees, suppliers, etc), the categories of processing carried out (transferring, hosting, altering, receiving, disclosing, etc)
  • keep details of any transfers to countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • implement appropriate security measures, which may include pseudonymisation and encryption, and prove you’re regularly testing these measures
  • be ready with a general description of the technical and organisational security measures you keep in place

If responsible for a breach, you’ll definitely have more legal liability than under the DPA. If a data subject, maybe one of your customers, has suffered as a result of a data breach, they could make a claim against the data processor directly.

As a data processor, the severity of your penalty will reflect how serious the consequence of your failure to comply with your obligations placed on you by the GDPR or followed the instructions of your data controller. These obligations include ensuring sufficient security measures, and you’ll suffer further penalties (see ‘What are the GDPR penalties?’ further down) if you fail to report the breach within the given time frame (a maximum 72 hours).

As well as this, if you’re a data processor and have paid compensation that the controller is partly or fully responsible for, you may be entitled to claim back the relevant damages from the controller themselves if you have a contract in place that states this. This area of claims is where cyber or professional indemnity insurance can come in handy, although you’ll always need to match the policy to your activities.

If you’re a controller

All controllers are by nature also processors and therefore subject to the same basic requirements. As a controller, the GDPR places obligations on you and your business to ensure any contracts you have with processors are compliant. Take a look at the section for processors above – it may be worth checking that their security measures and processes are GDPR-compliant before signing or renewing any contract.

Are you inside the EU?

The GDPR applies to businesses established in the EU that process personal data of any EU citizens, so far regardless of developments with Brexit. It also applies to organisations outside the EU which offer goods or services inside the EU.

How can I check my suppliers are GDPR-compliant?

Working with GDPR-compliant suppliers and contractors will reduce the risk of being impacted by a data breach, and any consequent fines and claims.

You could ask suppliers and contractors to complete a form that confirms the security measures they have in place, or you could conduct an on-site visit. If their existing measures aren’t sufficient, you should review your relationship to ensure they are compliant with GDPR.

Where your suppliers (as processors) are processing personal data on your behalf (as a controller), you have an obligation to update your contracts with them to include a number of mandatory clauses that can be found in Article 28(3) of the GDPR. These ensure that processors are contractually obliged to provide GDPR-compliant data protection standards.

GDPR consent – how do I get consent from my customers to use their data?

It’s great that you’re thinking about this, as consent is a key concern tackled by the GDPR.

The ICO has a dedicated page on its website covering consent.

GDPR consent checklist and principles (at-a-glance):

  • Check your consent practices and existing records. Refresh where necessary
  • Offer individuals genuine choice and control
  • Where using an opt-in, don’t rely on pre-ticked boxes or default options
  • Explicit consent means a very clear, specific statement of consent
  • Keep your consent requests separate from other terms and conditions
  • Be specific, granular, clear and concise
  • Name any third parties who will rely on the consent
  • Make it easy for people to withdraw consent (and tell them how)
  • Keep evidence of the consent (who, when, how and what you’ve told people)
  • Avoid making consent a precondition of your business services
  • Consent should put individuals in control, build trust and engagement and enhance your reputation

What are the GDPR penalties?

The GDPR toughens up penalties already existing under the DPA. These existing penalties include:

  • Maximum fines of £500,000
  • Prosecutions, including prison sentences for deliberate breaches
  • Obligatory undertakings, where your company has to commit to specific action to improve compliance

With the introduction of GDPR, these penalties got heavier.

Businesses in breach are liable to a dramatic increase in fines, with penalties reaching an upper limit of €20 million or four per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher.

Insolvency will be a real risk for non-compliant businesses as a result of these fines. But bear in mind the possibility that individuals can also sue you if they suffer as a result of your data management. This could be for material damage or non-material suffering, such as distress.

GDPR compliance checklist, helpful links and resources

ICO resource centre (small organisations and the GDPR)

ICO 12-step checklist

The website and checklist above are great resource for small businesses looking to step in-line with the GDPR.

From there, these more general websites can give a good overview.

ICO GDPR overview

EU GDPR portal

Information supplied by Simply Business

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