Product safety a priority.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims has reaffirmed support for introducing a general safety provision into Australian Consumer Law to reduce the risk of unsafe goods entering the market.

Speaking at the National Consumer Congress in Sydney, Sims said the new policy sets out how the ACCC will manage product safety risks, and the issues it will target in 2018. “As an agency, it is essential we prioritise our product safety resource allocation,” he said.

This year, the ACCC will be targeting nine critical safety issues facing Australian consumers that include: reducing the risk from button batteries and toppling furniture; products supplied over the internet and reviewing compulsory safety standards and bans to make sure these are working and businesses are complying.

Sims said most consumers are surprised to learn that it is not illegal to sell unsafe products in Australia and purchase products with the expectation that they are safe. “Consumers put their trust in suppliers and known brand names as we are generally not in a position to assess hidden safety hazards at the point of sale ourselves.”

A general safety provision is needed as current product safety laws are essentially reactive and normally only come into play after a problem has occurred. He also pointed out that as Australia’s current product safety system stands, we are lagging behind the UK, the EU, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and Brazil.

The ACCC receives 10,600 product safety reports each year, including 6,900 reports through its Infocentre,3,100 compulsory notices by businesses of deaths and injuries, and 600 compulsory notices by businesses of voluntary recalls. The organisation also monitors about 630 active voluntary recalls and undertakes surveillance to check compliance with about 20 of the 66 safety standards and bans it administers.