The plug and socket design is horrible: two pin, no earth, easily broken, easily touched when removing or inserting plugs, with live interiors of sockets often accessible trivially (not shielded). None of this is true of (in particular) UK three-pin sockets, which are almost always switched and separately fused, with further fusing at the house ring mains, in the street, and at the transformer (which is *not* per-house, but often per-street or per-block, allowing significantly greater efficiency and protection than the per-house scheme common in the US). The higher voltage also means that it is exceedingly rare for plugs or cables to even get warm, let alone hot enough to set anything on fire.
There are minimal regulations regarding electrical equipment in waterlogged areas like bathrooms: the UK forbids anything not internally earthed, anything running at above trivial voltages and in certain parts of the bathroom forbids anything electrical at all modulo pull cords. You never, ever see things like washing machines in bathrooms, and it is very rare for people to get electrocuted in bathrooms (the primary cause is manufacturing defects in electric showers).
Electrical fires and fatal electrocutions still happen in the UK, but they are so rare as to be national news when they do happen. So, yes, from my perspective US domestic electrical regulations are terrifyingly lax.
The real reason for all this of course is that electric kettles are ubiquitous in the UK, and we need our cups of tea fast! :)