CHOICE is calling for urgent reform to Australia’s product safety system as analysis shows children’s products consistently fail CHOICE lab tests for voluntary and mandatory safety standards.
“From portable cots that fail suffocation tests to strollers with finger traps, safety failures are so routine it’s clear that manufacturers are not prioritising safety,” says CHOICE Head of Campaigns and Policy, Sarah Agar.
A substantial number of products have failed CHOICE tests in ways that raise serious safety concerns:
- Portable cots* (60 tested from 2011-2018): 73% or 44 had serious failures that included the risk of suffocation, falls, instability (tipping over) or head/neck entrapment.
- Strollers (129 tested from 2012-2018): 66% or 85 had serious failures that included the risk of strangulation, falls, head entrapment or instability (leading to stroller collapse or tips).
- Cots (139 tested from 2012-2017): 37% or 51 had serious failures that included the risk of strangulation, suffocation, falls, limb entrapment, instability or head/neck entrapment.
“When you buy a product, you should be able to trust that it’s safe and won’t harm you or your loved ones,” Ms Agar says.
“Unfortunately, as these test results highlight, that isn’t always the case. In Australia, there is currently no positive legal obligation in our consumer law that says businesses need to make sure that all products are safe before they hit the shelves.
“Instead, our product safety system is largely reactive, with businesses taking action after products are found to be unsafe, usually after sale. This approach is failing us all,” Ms Agar says.
There is currently no market-wide, proactive legal requirement for manufacturers or retailers to ensure that what they’re selling is safe. Some high risk products must meet mandatory safety standards in order to be sold in Australia, although CHOICE test results show that compliance with these standards is a concern.
“We’re falling behind other countries including the UK and Canada that do have stronger legal protections including a general obligation in consumer law for businesses to sell safe products,” says Ms Agar.
“The Federal Government needs to act urgently to update our product safety law, and stop the flow of potentially dangerous products into our homes. We know the Australian public supports this – in fact, 79% of people believe businesses are already legally required to ensure that the products they sell are safe.”
CHOICE is calling on the Federal Government to take action and introduce a new law that will require businesses to sell safe products. People can join the campaign at: campaigns.choice.com.au/safeproducts
Media contact: Sarah Agar, CHOICE, Head of Campaigns and Policy, Spokesperson: 0423 203 935
Test result summary: 
^ CHOICE definition of serious failures:
- Portable cots: risk of suffocation, fall risks, instability (tipping over) or head/neck entrapment.
- Strollers: risk of strangulation, occupant retention, head entrapment, fall risks or instability (such as risk of stroller collapse or tipping over).
- Cots: risk of strangulation, suffocation, fall risks, limb entrapment, instability (such as a risk of tipping over) or head/neck entrapment.
Product safety tips:
- Research safety and any recall issues before purchasing children’s products
- If you are concerned about an unsafe product report it to the ACCC: https://www.productsafety.gov.au/contact-us/for-consumers/report-an-unsafe-product.
- Register for free product recall alerts: https://www.productsafety.gov.au/newsletter/subscribe