The consumer watchdog revealed that consumer products account for around 780 deaths and around 52,000 injuries each year, amounting to an annual cost of at least $5 billion.
Sims told the National Consumer Congress in Melbourne on Thursday that Australia is lagging behind our international counterparts who have already made it illegal to supply unsafe consumer goods.
“Many people are surprised to learn that it is not illegal to sell unsafe goods in Australia,” Sims said. “There is no law that says goods have to be safe, but there should be.”
The ACCC called on the Government to adopt a General Safety Provision that would ensure companies take reasonable steps to avoid supplying unsafe goods.
“For consumers, a General Safety Provision will give greater confidence that the goods they buy are safe. And for business, it will create a level playing field so that those firms who deliberately supply cheap but unsafe products do not derive a financial benefit,” Sims added.
Button battery safety is one area that the ACCC is currently working on.
‘We are continuing our work in preventing button batteries ending up in the hands of our infants and children,” Sims said. “Each week too many Australian children present to hospital as a result of button batteries, which can be deadly. This must change.”
The 2019 ACCC Product Safety Priorities also includes improving the safety of products that are sold online as well as protecting consumers when using smart devices.
“Along with concerns about privacy and consumer data, these products also pose risks in a product safety sense. They could be threatened because of a software update, lapse in internet connection, malware, or third party hacking. These scenarios can all lead to a product that doesn’t function as it should: which in turn poses a safety threat.”
ACCC plans to increase public awareness of contemporary safety hazards as a priority in 2019 and ensure the regulatory framework is fit for purpose.