New law: compulsory reporting of incidents related with consumer goods

By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: A new regime will require retailers, dealers, and distributors across Australia to report an incident where a person has suffered death or serious injury associated with a consumer good within two days of the incident occurring.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is calling for Australian businesses to get ready for new product mandatory reporting requirements that will take effect from 1 January 2011.

Consumer good installers, repairers, importers, and exporters will also be required to comply with the new regulation, which was passed as the second part of the Australian Consumer Law, under the Trade Practices Amendment Act (No.2) in June 2010.

The ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell, said mandatory reporting would help identify significant hazards.

"The mandatory reporting requirement means businesses need processes to track and take action on consumer complaints promptly,” said Kell.

"The reporting requirement was introduced to enable potential product safety hazards to be identified more readily, enabling a more rapid and targeted response to emerging safety issues.”

"Suppliers will have to notify the ACCC within two days of learning that a consumer good or product related service they have supplied has caused, or may cause, serious injury, illness or death.”

Disclosure of the incident is permissible if the Commonwealth Minister considers the information is in the public interest, according to a draft guide of the law.

Kell said he encouraged suppliers to comment on the draft guide.

“To help suppliers prepare, the ACCC has today issued draft guidelines on the new requirement, for comment,” said Kell.

“In addition, the ACCC will engage directly with suppliers and supplier intermediaries at a number of forums to be held later in the year.”

"I urge all suppliers to engage in the consultation process and begin preparing for the implementation of the new laws now.”

The draft guide to mandatory reporting is available at www.productsafety.gov.au/mandatoryreporting.

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