BBC Watchdog Test House

BSI features in several new episodes of the second series of BBC Watchdog Test House. In these programmes you’ll see tests being carried out on everyday products from vacuum cleaners to sports helmets as well as some services such as vehicle damage repair. Every year BSI carries out tests on thousands of products, many of which we have in our homes. We test products from all over the world to help manufacturers to design and develop products which are as safe as possible. Tests are usually carried out to check whether they meet a certain standard such as a British Standard (BS).

The filming was carried out at one of BSI’s Testing Centres of Excellence and also at some client locations. Hemel Hempstead was where the first BSI testing laboratories were built back in the 1950’s and it’s known as Kitemark House. This is because it’s the home of the BSI Kitemark which first appeared on products such as seatbelts, toys, and prams. Although these products are no longer tested by BSI or awarded the BSI Kitemark, many familiar products are still tested at Kitemark House to help to keep consumers safe.


Here's some information about the testing that was filmed at BSI for BBC Watchdog Test House:

Vehicle Damage Repair

When a car has been in an accident there are different things which might happen to it. It might be completely written off or it might be possible to have it repaired in a bodyshop. Of the estimated 2,500 – 3,500 bodyshops in the UK, 850 of these have a BSI Kitemark for vehicle damage repair. For those 850, this means we have undertaken unannounced inspections in each and every one, regularly, to make sure that the correct repair processes are being followed. We also check that staff are competent and trained, that tools and equipment are maintained, and that the parts used are appropriate for safe repair. Only when all of these critical parts of the repair process have been proven to meet the recognised industry standard, is the bodyshop awarded a BSI Kitemark.


Flood protection products can be for commercial or domestic use and usually come in three versions – temporary free standing barriers, removable household barriers or removable flood boards.

The products are typically tested in an environment that simulates a domestic or commercial property that is being flooded. We evaluate the effectiveness and performance of these products, with one of the key characteristics we assess being leakage rates. The main standards that we test flood mitigation products to are:  PAS 1188 and BS EN 13564.

It’s increasingly important the Flood mitigation products are effective as insurance companies are now offering flood cover based on the actual risks of flooding. In high risk areas where permanent defences may not be viable they will want to know what other local flood protection measures can be taken. Insurers will take account of effective action people have taken to protect their home or business, including the use of Kitemark flood products where these can reduce the flood risk affecting those properties.

Sports Helmets

We test a wide range of sports helmets from riding helmets used for equestrian activities to rugby scrum caps like the ones you see worn in the Six Nations and cycle helmets.

All sports helmets undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet the minimum safety requirements and can display CE marking. During the tests at BSI’s protective headwear laboratories we fit all kinds of protective sports headwear onto “headforms” and then carry out a series of tests to check their effectiveness. You will see a number of different kinds of tests on the programme, one of which for example will check if a helmet stays on the head during an impact.

In the shock absorption testing the headform is dropped from a specified height onto an “anvil” which simulates the helmet hitting a hard surface. Although the helmet may appear damaged, what we are checking is whether it will protect the user's head in the event of an accident. If any protective headwear that you may have has undergone any significant impact it is important to dispose of it and buy a new one that is CE marked. Even if it does not appear to be damaged, its performance may be impaired and it might not be as safe as it could be.