Border agents in Scotland have confiscated more than 15,000 hoverboards that have been tested and found to be unsafe, authorities said Dec. 3.

British Authorities Warn Non-Compliant Hoverboards Unsafe, Confiscate Thousands

More than 17,000 of them were examined at Scottish entry ports, with 88 percent confiscated over concerns such as safety issues with the plug, cabling, charger, battery, or the cut-off switch in the board, which often fails.

The London Fire Brigade warned residents to "think carefully about buying self-balancing scooters -- or hoverboards -- as Christmas presents," saying Dec. 3 that "major safety concerns have been raised about the batteries, plugs, cables and chargers within some of the hoverboards on sale." The warning was prompted by a National Trading Standards announcement that its border personnel in Scotland have confiscated more than 15,000 self-balancing scooters being imported into the country after they were assessed and found to be unsafe.

More than 17,000 of them were examined in all, so 88 percent of those examined thus far have been confiscated over concerns such as safety issues with the plug, cabling, charger, battery, or the cut-off switch in the board, which often fails. Many of the tested items have been found to have non-compliant plugs without fuses, which increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding, or catching fire, according to the brigade.

The brigade reported two men escaped a house fire in October that began with a hoverboard being charged. "Hoverboards might be the 'must-have' present this Christmas, but we have serious concerns that some products on sale, which are non-compliant, could be unsafe and pose a fire risk," said Charlie Pugsley, the head of fire investigations at the brigade. "We'd recommend using the National Trading Standards product safety checklist and keeping an eye on the Electrical Safety First's recall list.

National Trading Standards and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute are urging consumers to be vigilant."Our teams at seaports, postal hubs, and airports have seen a significant spike in the number of unsafe 'hoverboards' arriving at national entry points in recent weeks and are working around the clock to prevent dangerous items from entering the supply chain. Protecting consumers from harm is our top priority, and our Safety at Ports and Borders teams are preventing thousands of these unsafe items from being released onto the market every day," said Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards. "We suspect that most of these products are being imported for onward sale domestically as Christmas approaches – we urge consumers to be on their guard when purchasing these products and advise you read our product safety checklist to help ensure you are not purchasing a dangerous item."

Consumer Minister Nick Boles said, "At this time of year, consumers are under pressure to get the best presents for their loved ones, however it is important that their safety is put above all else. Shoppers should think twice before choosing products from a site that does not appear genuine, and the checklist that National Trading Standards has produced is extremely useful. I urge anyone who suspects a hoverboard not to be genuine to report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline."

Authorities are urging owners of the devices not to leave one charging unattended, especially overnight, and to check the device out, examining the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug – and for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and/or importer.

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  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

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