May 15, 2019
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) conducted a basic questionnaire survey for analyzing product accidents unique to the elderly and the current awareness of product safety among the elderly, placing an eye on the arrival of advancing aging society, and it compiled the survey results into a report as an outcome that contributes to future mid- to long-term deliberations on measures for product safety.
1. Outline of the survey
Targeting the elderly and people at early and late middle age across Japan (hereinafter referred to as the “respondents”), METI conducted the survey to uncover their awareness of approaches to handling gas and oil equipment or household appliances, mainly focusing on the study of potential risks in product accidents caused by aging deterioration of durable consumer goods, which is expected to happen in the coming aging society.
The survey targeted the current situations on how the respondents use gas and oil equipment or household appliances and ascertained the differences of such use between the elderly and people at early and late middle age. Through this approach, METI confirmed [i] consumer behaviors and awareness of the respondents that may cause product accidents unique to elderly households, [ii] daily-life environments of the respondent elderly persons involving product safety, for e.g., people with whom they can consult and means for receiving information on recalls, and other facts.
2. Key points of the report
The survey targeted 14 types of gas and oil equipment and home appliances and investigated how long the respondents have been using such appliances. As a result, it discovered that elderly persons tend to use 11 types of such appliances, including washing machines, longer than the respondents at early and late middle age.
Moreover, it also uncovered that among the types of appliances that often cause accidents if they are used over 15 years, the respondents have been using the following appliances over 15 years: electric fans, gas water heaters for kitchen or bath use, warm water bidets and refrigerators.
As for the reason for long-term use of such appliances, a large number of the respondents said that they would like to use the appliance until it breaks. No difference was seen in the response rate of this answer among respondents’ generations.
The survey also uncovered that the respondents, regardless of age, tend to use nine types of appliances for a long period of time and this is estimated to be caused by their low household income. Based on this fact, the correlation between the amount of income and long-term use of appliances was confirmed.
Taking into consideration the survey results, METI will hold deliberations on studying efforts for preventing product accidents caused by aging deterioration of appliances and effective measures for raising public awareness of such accidents.
3. Proposal report submitted by experts
Along with the survey, METI established an expert committee for discussing challenges surrounding the elderly and product safety, and the members of the committee exchanged views based on the survey results. The committee compiled the discussion results into a proposal report on efforts for preventing product accidents caused by aging deterioration of appliances in aging society. Accordingly, METI hereby releases the report.
Division in Charge
Product Accident Information and Analysis Office, Product Safety Division, Commerce, Industrial and Product Safety Policy Group