(Frankfurt, June 13, 2022) An electrical device malfunctions and catches fire – dangerous incidents like this at home are not analyzed in detail, which makes it impossible to evaluate the causes and background. Only electrical accidents that end in fatalities or take place at work are systematically recorded in Germany. If a person dies, the doctor must report the accident with the death certificate. Trade associations are responsible for incidents in commercial environments, but little is known about those occurring elsewhere. VDE now plans to shed light on this blind spot in accident reporting. Consumers can report dangerous incidents involving electricity online at www.vde.com/stromvorfall-melden (form in German).
By collecting this information, VDE hopes to gain additional insights into the hazards associated with the everyday use of electricity. This initiative is aimed at anyone who has ever gotten an electric shock while using an electrical device. Users can also report unsafe electronic devices that are damaged, have produced smoke or have caught fire. VDE is also interested in reports of suspicious devices even if no accident has occurred.
Online form and interviews
Reporting a dangerous incident is simple: affected consumers fill out the online form on the VDE website. They should upload one or more photos of the damaged device. To cover more detailed questions, VDE will then call consumers to conduct a telephone interview based on a standardized questionnaire. The results are then published anonymously on the website. The aim is to look at patterns rather than provide an expert evaluation of each case. Reports can also cover “near misses” involving defective electronic devices that could have caused personal injury or property damage in less favorable circumstances.
Demonstrating accident patterns
Using electric power is already very safe today thanks to VDE standards as well as independent testing bodies such as the VDE Institute that inspect and certify electronic devices. Germany nevertheless sees an average of 36 fatal electrical accidents each year and an unknown number of non-fatal electric shocks. Electronic devices proven to be defective are currently already listed in the European Union’s Safety Gate system (formerly RAPEX), which leads to a mandatory product recall or import ban. This list is not well known, however, and can be circumvented by directly ordering cheap foreign products in online shops.
This current reporting initiative is designed to reveal patterns in accidents involving certain devices such as USB chargers or specific use behavior. Insights from the analyzed reports will flow directly into the development of safety standards and product tests.