ACCC acts against unsafe children's swim vests

11 October 2006

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Brand Direct International Pty Ltd after it supplied children's swimming aid vests which did not comply with the mandatory product safety standard.

"The Maui brand swimming aid vests, which came in two sizes, failed to comply with the safety warning labelling requirements of the mandatory product safety standard*", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.

"The ACCC found the vests during a routine product survey. Contrary to the standard, the vests were not marked with the intended body mass range. Further, the safety warning on one of the vests was not in a contrasting colour, making it difficult to read.

"Brand Direct imported approximately 4000 vests, which were distributed to Big W stores in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

"The ACCC believes the vests' supply was likely to have breached section 65C of the Trade Practices Act 1974. This section prohibits goods being supplied to consumers which do not meet a prescribed mandatory product safety standard.

"After ACCC contact, Brand Direct withdrew the vests from sale, and conducted a product safety recall. It has undertaken to:

  • refrain from supplying any flotation toys or swimming aids that do not comply with the relevant mandatory consumer product safety and information standards, and
  • establish and implement a trade practices compliance program, and have this program independently audited.

"Big W, which sold the vests through its stores from September 2005 to February 2006, has entered into a separate administrative resolution with the ACCC. As part of this settlement Big W has revised its checking procedures to ensure mandatory standards are met, conducted refresher training for its staff, and introduced procedures requiring its staff to proactively investigate product suspected of being non-compliant with mandatory product safety and information standards.

"The ACCC was particularly concerned that Big W, once alerted by Brand Direct that there may have been a problem with the vests, continued to sell them for another week until it received written notification from Brand Direct requesting that the vests be withdrawn from sale".

Woolworths has also agreed to extend the scope of the next independent audit of its Woolworths Supermarkets Trade Practices Compliance Program, required under a court-enforceable undertaking which the ACCC accepted from Woolworths (South Australia) Pty Limited in December 2002. This audit will now include a comprehensive review of Big W's quality assurance processes relating to compliance with mandatory product safety and information standards.

"Consumer safety is of paramount importance and the ACCC will act promptly against suppliers when consumers, particularly children, are placed at risk through non-compliance with mandatory safety standards", Mr Samuel, said.

"These products carry warning labels so parents can protect their children from potential hazards of misuse of the products.

"All suppliers must ensure that their goods comply with relevant mandatory product safety and information standards and risk substantial fines if they fail to comply".

* The standard is based on AS 1900-1991 Flotation toys and swimming aids for children.

Release number: 
MR 234/06
ACCC Infocentre: 

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