New Safety Standard for Ethanol Burners

A new safety standard for decorative alcohol-fuelled devices, also known as ethanol burners, will ensure consumers’ safety, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack says.

“I’m worried about the harm these products can cause consumers, which is why I’ve made a safety standard which particularly targets table-top devices which pose the greatest risk,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack made this decision following advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that a safety standard is needed to prevent the risk of serious injuries and deaths.

“Decorative burners have caused more than 100 injuries and at least 36 house fires across Australia since 2010. There have also been at least three deaths that occurred overseas,” Mr McCormack said.

Today’s safety standard follows Mr McCormack’s decision to impose a national interim ban on tabletop devices and certain freestanding devices which do not have specified safety features and warnings, from 17 March 2017.

“Table top burners which are designed to sit on a table are most commonly involved in these incidents and I urge consumers to stop using these products immediately,” Mr McCormack said.

“Many of these products allow the user to refuel the device in the same opening as the burner. The flame is often hard to see and injuries commonly occur when consumers refuel the device when it is still lit or warm.

“This can cause a flash flame and the fuel bottle to explode. There is also a risk of the burner being knocked over, especially by children or pets, potentially causing serious burns and damage to property.”

The national interim ban comes to an end on 14 July 2017, and will be replaced by a safety standard from 15 July 2017. The new safety standard:

  • prevents the supply of table top devices (devices which weigh less than 8 kilograms or have a footprint less than 900 square centimetres); and
  • requires freestanding and fixed devices to meet a stability test, come with a fuel container with a flame arrester (or an automatic fuel pump system) and display warnings on the device about refuelling hazards.

The safety standard gives device suppliers three months to transition from the national interim ban to the new requirements in the safety standard.

Mr McCormack said there are tough penalties for selling products which do not comply with a safety standard. Individuals can face a maximum fine of $220,000 and corporations facing a maximum fine of $1.1 million.

Products intended for cooking or heating are exempt from the safety standard, Mr McCormack said.

“I also note some suppliers of safe devices are intending to develop a voluntary standard with Standards Australia which will provide additional protections for consumers. I welcome and strongly support this initiative,” Mr McCormack said.

Retailers and suppliers can go to the ACCC’s product safety website to get further information on the new safety standard.

Consumers seeking to purchase decorative alcohol-fuelled devices should check with suppliers that the device complies with the safety standard. The ACCC and the State and Territory co-regulators will also be monitoring compliance by device suppliers with the standard.

Those concerned about products they have previously purchased should visit the Product Safety Australia website for information about the safety standard, consumer rights and how to use burners safely.

Consumers who have purchased unsafe table top devices should return the product for a full refund. The store may require proof of purchase such as a receipt or a credit card/bank statement.

For further information, please contact ACCC Media on 1300 138 917.