One of CFA’s key activities is to support consumer input into the development of Australian Standards. CFA identifies and nominates people who will be effective consumer representatives to contribute to the development of standards of direct interest to consumers.
Currently 32 CFA nominated consumer representatives are active on 53 Standards Australia committees. During the past six months Representatives attended a total of 83 working groups and other meetings, 3 of them overseas.
The following examples of consumer representative work on Australian Standards give an idea of the breadth of issues covered.
The Australian Standard on complaints handling
This complaints handling standard – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations AS ISO 10002:2006 – aims to provide guidance on complaints handling related to products within an organisation. It is is one of the most popular guidelines produced by Standards Australia. The standard is used by a wide range of government, retail, educational and other organisations and businesses as the basis for their complaints handling procedures.
The Standard is now out of date and a review has commenced. There are seven working groups looking at particular issues: social media, unreasonable complaint behaviour, apologies, appeals and escalation benchmarks, root cause analysis, dispute prevention and vulnerable and disabled complainants.
A CFA rep was appointed to represent consumer interests in August 2012. A new standard has been proposed for release in March 2014
Solid fuel burning appliances
This committee looks at standardisation in the field of domestic solid fuel burning appliances including requirements for construction, fire safety, installation, performance requirements and emission limits. It is currently reviewing AS/NZS 4012 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances-Method for determination of power output and efficiency and AS/NZS 4013 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances-Method for determination of flue gas emission. Drafting has commenced and the committee is looking to publish around March 2014. Access to a number of published standards and active projects can be found on the Standards Australia website.
The bicycle committee is reviewing a series of bicycle standards. It has established 6 working groups including bicycle helmets, pedal bicycles, child carrier seats/trailers/attachments, parking facilities, lighting equipment and electric bicycles. The committee continues to mirror the international standard ISO TC 149 Cycles with ballots and comment on international documents put forward to establish the Australian position including safety requirements regarding head protection and specific components.
International Standards Organisation Committee on Consumer Policy Mirror Committee (CMC)
The CMC’s role is to develop Australia’s policy positions to address matters raised by the International Standards Organisation Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO). The committee also endorses delegates to represent Australia at COPOLCO meetings.
The CMC includes representatives from Choice, Consumers’ Federation of Australia, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP), National Retail Association (NRA) and Queensland Fair Trading.
In October 2012, two consumer representatives attended the COPOLCO Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) meeting in Berlin with three others.
Issues addressed at the international meeting included counterfeit goods, revision of the ISO IEC Guide 46 Comparative testing of consumer products, Australian positions on prioritisation and the Chair’s meeting. Reports were presented on the Product Safety Working Group, Consumer Protection in the global marketplace, OECD, IEC TC 61 and the meeting with the ISO General Secretary.
The CMC will be meeting again in Malta, 22-23 May 2013.
For further information see our previous update or visit the Australian Standards website.