There should be a law in Australia prohibiting the sale of unsafe goods, ACCC Chair Rod Sims told the National Consumer Congress in Melbourne last week.
Using new data the ACCC estimates the annual cost of injury and death caused by unsafe consumer products is at least $5 billion and could be much more.
Excluding motor vehicle accidents, there are around 780 deaths and around 52,000 injuries per year from consumer products that many Australians have in their homes.
“Many people are surprised to learn that it is not illegal to sell unsafe goods in Australia,” Mr Sims said.
“There is no law that says goods have to be safe, but there should be.”
Examples of harm include electrocution from faulty appliances, burns from ignited flammable clothing, choking on children’s toys and suffocation in cots and beds.
The ACCC says there is a need for the Government to adopt a General Safety Provision obliging companies to take reasonable steps to avoid supplying unsafe goods.
“For consumers, a General Safety Provision will give greater confidence that the goods they buy are safe. And for business, it will create a level playing field so that those firms who deliberately supply cheap but unsafe products do not derive a financial benefit,” Mr Sims added.
On the eve of World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, the ACCC announced its 2019 Product Safety Priorities, with the Takata airbag recall remaining a primary concern, and a continuation of the ACCC’s work on button battery safety.
‘We are continuing our work in preventing button batteries ending up in the hands of our infants and children,” Mr Sims said.
“Each week too many Australian children present to hospital as a result of button batteries, which can be deadly. This must change.”
Other 2019 ACCC Product Safety Priorities include preventing injury and deaths to infants caused by unsafe sleeping products and improving the safety of products that are sold online.
An additional focus for the ACCC in 2019 will be examining potential consumer safety hazards associated with interconnected and smart devices.
“Our challenge in product safety is to anticipate these future risks before they arise and make sure the regulatory framework is fit for purpose.”
The full list of the ACCC’s 2019 Product Safety Priorities is available at: Product safety priorities