Test Revealed Doubts on Safety of Electric Foot Spa Massagers -CHOICE # 420

17 October 2011
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Electric foot spa massagers are quite popular on the Mainland. However, a Mainland report indicated that a consumer died of electric shock while using a foot massager. This type of product is available in the Hong Kong market and those who would buy or use the foot massager have to be aware of its potential hazards.

The latest issue of CHOICE magazine reports results of a safety test on electric foot spa massager conducted by the Sichuan Consumers' Association. The test revealed that more than 40% out of the 14 tested samples failed to comply with relevant Mainland standards. The major problems were detected in their labelling and instructions, power cords, and the terminal connecting external cables. The water ingress protection of some tested samples is inadequate.

The test revealed that almost 40% of the tested samples failed to meet the National Standards on labelling. The content on the label was found to be too casual and simple. In 5 of the tested samples, the mandatory safety warning in the operation instructions was missing or inadequate. This might create safety problems when the product is being used.

The prices of 14 samples tested by the Sichuan Consumer Organization ranged from RMB 99 yuan to 1,188 yuan. Similar products are available in Hong Kong electrical appliances chain stores and medical supplies shops, with local prices ranging from HK$350 to HK$1,000.

Water ingress protection was found to be inadequate in some tested samples. Taking reference of the international IP Rating Scale of the degree of water ingress protection (IPX1 - IPX8), among the 14 models, one did not show any water ingress protection level while another model was labelled IPX1, which was the lowest water ingress protection level. The levels for the other 12 models were marked as IPX3 or IPX4. An electric foot spa massager uses water and electricity while it is in operation, and the massager has direct contact with the human body. If it has a low water ingress protection level, then it will be potentially hazardous to the user's safety. Consumers are advised to take particular attention to the water ingress protection level when purchasing such a product.

In two tested samples, it was found that the power cords failed to meet the National Standards, and this may cause the exposure of the conductor wire after using a period of time. Another model also failed to meet the Standards' requirements in the way the power cable was connected at the terminal, which may lead to disconnection which in turn would cause electric shock.

The Consumer Council reminds local foot spa shops and beauty parlours to be cautious about the potential hazards of electric foot spa massagers. The Council also provides the following recommendations to consumers while they purchase and use the massagers:

  • Check if the functions of the massager suit your needs, and examine carefully if the labels and instructions of the product are complete and in details.
  • Operate the massager according to the instructions provided.
  • Place the massager on a level surface when in use.
  • Dry the hands before pressing on the on/off button to avoid electric shock.

The following points should be noted during maintenance and when cleaning the equipment:

  • Clean the massager in accordance with the instructions provided; avoid sharing the massager with other people.
  • Clean the massager only after the power is disconnected, and store it in cool dry place after cleaning.
  • If any abnormality is detected when it is in operation, stop the massager, unplug the power socket and arrange for a checkup by a qualified technician.
  • If the massager is not used for a long period of time, unplug it from the power socket, and store it in a cool dry place with no direct sunlight.

The Consumer Council reserves all its right (including copyright) in respect of CHOICE Magazine and Online CHOICE ( https://echoice.consumer.org.hk/ ).