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Monday October 03, 2016

UL Microwave Panel Continues Safety Latch Attention

Data challenges and examples of relevant performance standards were the primary topics during an August 28 teleconference of a UL task group looking at child resistant features on microwave ovens. The impetus for the work is children accessing and being burned by heated food or liquids. At a previous session (PSL, 8/1/16), the group heard from researchers who estimated that up to 600 injuries could be prevented by such safety devices.

  • Data: Members heard that CPSC might be able to help with getting some incident details, but larger projects like in-depth investigations are unlikely. Moreover, whatever the agency does will depend on resource availability. Complaint data – whether held by companies or in resources like – might not be plentiful as the problem involves the ovens operating as intended, participants seemed to agree. Nonetheless, those sources are options too. Another possibility is reaching out to burn centers. It might be difficult to get statistically valid information, but even anecdotal might help in understanding how events occur. The panel will be working online to create a list of survey question for such inquiries.

  • Dual Action Devices: The group has identified a few UL standards for other products that might offer examples of performance requirements. It will seek others. A CPSC staffer on the call said she has a spreadsheet of some from work on a past project. That would add to the list. There was some discussion about the words distinct, separate, and simultaneous in such provisions. Some members expressed concern with the last, but another pointed out that simultaneous actions better thwart small children and protect against accidental opening via repetitive and random play. The possibility of testing devices on children – akin to the protocol for pharmaceutical closures – was raised, but there was little discussion beyond that.

There also has been some work towards determining food industry groups to reach out to, both for possible involvement and for gathering information. Further, the International Microwave Power Institute expressed interest when contacted and already provided some information such as the target temperatures behind food microwaving instructions.