Protecting populations from non conforming electrical appliances and installations

'Better protect the citizens of the Gulf region from the many accidents caused by low-quality electrical appliances and components' was one of the clear objectives of the first international conference for standardisation and conformity assessment in electrotechnology, held in Bahrain in December 2009.

With the rapid growth of the consumption of non-conforming electrical appliances in the Gulf region has come an increase in accidents and electrical fires.

Badly insulated oven doors in low-quality products burn many innocent hands. Inferior quality material used in switches, socket outlets, fuses and appliances may cause fires in buildings that can cost billions of dollars to local economies, and endanger the lives of millions.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, an estimated 30 per cent of building fires are caused by short circuits, faulty wiring, and non-conforming electrical products. Part of the problem is the absence of third party conformity assessment. Use of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Standards in third party conformity assessment increases the safety and health of local populations and encourages the development of manufacturing in GCC.

The Bahrain conference was opened by the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Bahrain, H.E. Mr. Hassan Abdulla Fakhro. The conference was co-organised by the Worldwide System for Conformity Testing and Certification of Electrotechnical Equipment and Components (IECEE) for the IEC, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Bahrain, and the GCC Standardization Organization (GSO).

Derek Johns of Christchurch, New Zealand, was one of the key speakers at the conference. Derek is the Chairman of IEC Technical Committee 61, which is responsible for the development of safety Standards for household electrical appliances.

The conference brought together key players from manufacturing, testing laboratories, and government bodies from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It looked at the safety of household appliances, electrical appliances, and buildings, as well as the role of conformity assessment in improving the quality and performance of electrotechnical products and systems in these countries.

One of the aims of the conference was to provide the Gulf region with the tools to play a key role in the development of IEC Standards and to participate in the IECEE.

The Gulf region is today the third most important trading platform for electrical and electronic goods globally. For a region that increasingly cooperates economically, the use of IEC Standards and the participation in the IECEE Conformity Assessment System is vital for its industrial development. This will result in increased efficiency and economies of scale in manufacturing and the reduction of trade barriers.

Summarised from an IECEE media release, Geneva, Switzerland, 11 December 2009.

Published in energy.