Half of all Australian homes affected by unsafe products

20 August 2018

Faulty products continue to cause serious injury and harm to thousands of Australians, with more than 4.5 million items recalled by suppliers in the 2017-18 financial year.

New figures show at least 10 people a day are injured and require medical attention as a result of unsafe products, according to mandatory reports provided to the ACCC by manufacturers and retailers.

“Ten injuries a day due to defective products is alarming, but we suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg as many more consumers don’t report injuries to the product suppliers at all,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Australians would be surprised to hear that it is not illegal to supply unsafe products in Australia, as it is in a range of places like the United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Malaysia and Brazil. We think consumers should be able to expect the products they purchase aren’t going to cause them an injury.”

“The number of Australians being injured by unsafe products is far too high, and we encourage people to sign up to recalls information or follow us on social media so they can be alerted to any potential risks in their homes,” Ms Rickard said.

Recall notifications peaked significantly in the summer months, with products ranging from cars and caravans, to children’s toys and prams. Around half of these notifications are referred to specialist safety regulators for assessment, like food, building products and hazardous chemicals.

Of the types of products the ACCC has sole responsibility for recalling, the highest represented categories included outdoor and camping products, kitchenware, furniture and items for babies and kids.

“Parents and people with young children are encouraged to be aware of recalls that may affect products they have in their home. But the high numbers of injuries across Australia indicate many people will be injured or know someone who has been injured by an unsafe product at some point during their lives,” Ms Rickard said.

The ACCC says the consistently high number of recalls suggest the need for a General Safety Provision, currently being considered by Consumer Affairs Ministers, which would require businesses to ensure the safety of the goods they sell.

“We strongly support the introduction of a General Safety Provision by the Australian Government, which is designed to stop unsafe goods from being sold in Australia,” Ms Rickard said.

“Consumers are encouraged to sign up to Product Safety Australia email alert to keep up to date with current recalls. When it comes to safety, you don’t want to take unnecessary risks.”

Key recalls for 2017/18:

Consumers can sign up for tailored email alerts on the products that are of interest to them and their families. Consumers can also report an unsafe product to the ACCC by completing a simple web form to help protect others from harm.

The Product Safety Australia website also provides consumers with safety education, lists the products that are managed by mandatory safety standards and explains which specialist agencies have responsibility for products that aren’t managed by the ACCC.

Release number: 
158/18
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