Tool hire firms, including branches of builders merchants Jewson and Travis Perkins, have been forced to remove DIY equipment from their shelves after an investigation revealed safety faults in more than half the items hired.
Consumer group Which? hired a range of tools including wallpaper strippers, circular saws, tile cutters and hedge trimmers – from five major hire companies and four independents. Tests in an independent laboratory revealed faults in more than half, including unearthed plugs, worn and broken blades, kitchen foil used as a fuse and damaged wires.
All three tools hired from both Speedy and Brandon Hire had faults while two out of four tools hired from each of Jewson, Hire Station (part of Homebase) and Travis Perkins had faults. Only HSS’ equipment had no safety faults at all.
Faults included a wallpaper stripper with a split hose which could leak hot steam and scald the user, a cut in an extension lead leaving only basic insulation and the risk of an electric shock, a loose earth screw on a tile cutter’s transformer from Jewson, a foil “fuse and a broken blade extension on a petrol hedge trimmer.
The report, which appears in the April edition of Which? magazine, said that most of the companies agreed to remove the tools from the shelves to investigate further, while Jewson and Hire Station also agreed to tighten their safety procedures.
Which? said it was also concerned about the lack of safety equipment, such as goggles, gloves, ear protectors and circuit breakers, offered at the point of hire.
However Brandon Hire told The Guardian that it refutes Which?’s findings. It said: “Our investigation found that the hedge trimmer does have a nick in the extension cable but the basic insulation is intact. We found a small leak with the wallpaper stripper and while there was some movement with the saw blade, there was no safety issue. Our record shows that [Which? was] offered protective equipment on all three occasions.”