ACCC calls for improved product safety compliance

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims has addressed the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation Asia-Pacific Symposium in the Gold Coast.

Mr Sims expressed concern about the number of retailers who appear to be supplying unsafe goods, particularly low value goods directly sourced from overseas.

“We are concerned by indications that some major retailers appear not to have satisfactory processes in place to meet their responsibility properly to ensure the safety of the goods they sell.”

The Chairman said that the ACCC has a range of enforcement options, including specific product safety provisions, which it will apply if retailers contravene the law as a result of taking short-cuts in their product design and purchasing procedures.

“To avoid contravening the consumer protection laws, retailers need to consider their processes so that they do not put unsafe goods on their shelves.”

“If major retailers are discovered to have taken short-cuts in applying basic quality assurance and control measures, at the expense of consumer safety, we will take action in any way we can.”

At the event, which is part of Product Safety Week, Mr Sims said that reforms had provided the ACCC with a nationally harmonised product safety regime, better laws and improved hazard identification processes.

One such reform was the introduction of the mandatory reporting requirement, which was incorporated into the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC now receives over 2,500 mandatory reports every year.

“Suppliers must now notify the ACCC of incidents they become aware of where a person has received a serious injury that they, or someone, associates with a consumer product. This notification is required within two days.”

The reforms have led to a significant involvement in the management of recalls. The ACCC negotiated 91 recalls last financial year, resulting in over two million additional hazardous products being recalled from the Australian market.

“In some cases, the ACCC has identified safety issues across an entire market segment and negotiated a number of recalls to ensure that the problem has been rectified across that market segment,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims said that Australians want affordable goods, but more than that consumers want to be safe, and want their children to be safe, when using these goods.