Safety recalls occur, and unfortunately, they sometimes happen with products that you might have used. If it turns out that you own some equipment that has a safety recall on it then it can be pretty inconvenient; while the manufacturer will cover the cost of repair or replacement, it still means that you have to do without that tool or other item until things are fixed. If there’s a recall that affects parts or equipment that you installed on the job, though… that makes things a bit trickier.
There is no standard procedure for how to handle safety recalls that affect parts and equipment that you’ve already installed. The risks involved can vary greatly, and in some cases, there may not be any risk at all to your customer once the item is installed. With that said, here are some general guidelines for how you might approach the situation if you find out that you’ve installed items that have since been recalled.
Before you can take action on a recall, you have to know that the recall exists. In some cases, you may receive a letter or other notification from the manufacturer performing the recall. In other cases, you may have to discover the recall for yourself. To this end, it is helpful to periodically check online for recall notices. In addition to checking websites such as Consumer Reports or the recall list of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, you can also periodically check the websites of manufacturers who make the components and equipment you install.
Other resources for recall information include electrician trade groups, websites focused on the trade and forums or other community websites dedicated to the electrician community. As relevant recalls occur, many of these sites will be updated with information about the recalls.
Confirming the Details
Once you hear about a recall, the first thing you should do is confirm the details to see if you have installed recalled items. Check the manufacturers’ website or search for a copy of the actual recall notice to find out the specific details of the recall. This should include part numbers, SKUs, component names, when the defective items were manufactured and sold, and other pertinent information to help you identify whether you have used items contained within the recall. This will also provide information on what you should do if you used these recalled items.
A major concern here is whether there is an ongoing hazard with the recalled items. In some cases, the primary issue is a flaw that affects the installation process. When this occurs, the recall typically doesn’t affect ongoing use of the item if it’s already been installed. If there is a danger after installation has occurred, the recall notice will explain what the danger is and will specify whether the item in question should be removed and replaced.
Contacting Your Customers
If you’ve confirmed that you installed components or equipment for a client that has since been recalled, you can contact the client and informed them about the recall. Ask the client if they would like for you to replace the affected components and explain that any dangers associated with the recall are not the fault of the installers or anyone else on your crew. You can also explain to the client that they are free to contact another electrician and have them perform the replacement if they prefer.
Even though the recall has nothing to do with how you installed components, some consumers get nervous when they find out that an electrician or other contractor has installed recalled parts. If they would prefer another electrician, feel free to recommend electricians that you know and who you know do good work.
Occasionally, consumers will approach you about a recall that you weren’t aware of. You may not even have been the electrician that installed the items at their home or place of business. If this occurs, find out what you can about the recall and double check to make sure that the items in question are actually affected by the recall before you begin any work to replace parts or equipment.
Have you ever had to replace something you had already installed due to a safety recall?