How Protected Are Consumers by AU Product Safety Laws?
If you’re like most consumers, you probably walk into a store assuming that all the products lined up on the shelves are safe. The unfortunate reality is that many products sold to Australian consumers have not undergone stringent safety checks.
Most Australians will be surprised to know that compared to other developed countries, Australia has limited product safety laws in place and manufacturers are often under no obligation to ensure the safety of products before they are sold to the public.
What does this mean? Simply put, businesses could be selling potentially dangerous products that could cause serious injuries or incidents. Worse, these products could already be in your homes or workplaces.
A business might voluntarily recall a product if a user becomes injured while using it. However, more than one million unsafe products that have been voluntarily recalled by manufacturers are yet to be returned to sellers exposing an untold number of people to serious risks.
Mandatory Safety Laws
The Food Standard Code regulates the food and beverage sector in Australia; however, there are other industries for which product safety is paramount. This includes pharmaceuticals, electronics, cosmetics, and more. For now, only some high-risk products are required to meet safety standards in order to be sold in Australia, such as baby products, children’s toys, and automotive, to name a few.
As yet, there are no definitive industry-wide regulations that manufacturers or retailers must meet to ensure the safety of their products before they hit the shelves. Even then, some products that do have to meet mandatory safety standards still fail independent testing.
Calls for Proactive Product Safety Laws
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), there has been a steady increase in the volume of consumer product recalls worldwide. In fact, Australia had higher per capita voluntary recalls than other nations including Korea, Britain, Japan, and the U.S. between 2017 and 2019. Meanwhile, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission says that estimates reveal around 780 deaths and 52,000 injuries per year in Australia from unsafe consumer products.
Consumer watchdogs such as the ACCC and CHOICE are calling on the government to establish new, proactive safety laws instead of the reactive regulations currently in place.
Whilst waiting for better product safety laws to come into effect, the responsibility of ensuring the safety of families and workplaces falls on consumers. Make sure to do your research and find out if the products you regularly use are manufactured by companies that proactively work to ensure the safety of their goods.
The ACCC is also urging consumers to ‘react to recalls’ as part of an international campaign.
At Envirofluid, we strive to ensure the high quality and safety of our products before they reach you. We have made it our mission to improve lives by drastically reducing health and safety risks in the workplace with the chemistries we provide.
Safer chemicals are often more effective than the toxic chemicals they replace! Additionally, they are easier to use and provide more efficient handling to increase productivity, reduce waste, and boost morale.