The ACCC will this year focus on implementation of important safety standards relating to quad bikes including preparing consumers and businesses for a mandatory requirement for operator protection devices as it is introduced in October, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said today.

Mr Sims, speaking at the National Consumer Congress, announced the ACCC’s five product safety priorities for 2021, which include conducting education, surveillance and enforcement in relation to the quad bike safety standard.

“There were a record 23 quad bike deaths last year, many from rollovers, and since 2011 there have been 162 deaths and an estimated six injuries per day associated with quad bikes. This is appalling and unacceptable,” Mr Sims said.

“The ACCC will be focused on ensuring compliance with a series of requirements which are already in effect and importantly, also delivering educational initiatives about the second phase requirements that come into effect in October 2021.”

The ACCC will also be helping businesses prepare for the new button battery safety standards.

"The world-first standards for button batteries will improve safety in the design of products containing button batteries, the packaging of button batteries, as well as the warning requirements alerting consumers to the risks,” Mr Sims said.

Implementing strategies to reduce the risk of unsafe infant sleeping products and scoping effective risk controls for toppling furniture are also product safety priorities for 2021, Mr Sims said.

“We estimate that around 2,600 Australians receive hospital treatment for injuries caused by toppling furniture and televisions each year, or about 50 people per week. Between 2001-2018, twenty-two children under the age of nine have died from toppling furniture,” Mr Sims said.

Strengthening product safety online is also a priority for the ACCC in 2021. eBay Australia, Amazon Australia, AliExpress and signed the Australian Product Safety Pledge in November 2020, in which they committed to do more to protect consumers from unsafe products than required by the current law.

“The ACCC will monitor online compliance commitments recently given by four of Australia’s largest online marketplaces,” Mr Sims said.  

Mr Sims said that the success of the Takata airbag recall was profound, with 99.9% of the faulty products replaced or accounted for.

“These recalls, however, also illustrated the need for the introduction of a general safety provision to improve product safety in Australia," Mr Sims said.

“Many other countries already have this law in place, including the UK, EU, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong and Brazil, and we will keep pushing this issue.” 

Mr Sims announced at the conference that the ACCC is building up the team dedicated to product safety into a stand-alone Division, recognising the importance of this work. 

“This is a milestone for the ACCC and for product safety, and has been facilitated by additional resources into this area from the Commonwealth Government, for which we are very grateful.” Mr Sims said.

Product safety priorities

As the national product safety regulator for consumer products, the ACCC identifies, prioritises and manages product safety risks across many thousands of different product types to help keep Australians safe.

Each year the ACCC reviews its Product Safety Priorities. This year, the ACCC will prioritise five key product safety issues, on top of our core product safety functions. These core functions capture the regulatory activities of the ACCC which are considered to be ‘business as usual’.

This year’s priorities are:

  • conducting education, surveillance and enforcement in relation to the quad bike safety standard
  • implementing the new safety standards for button batteries
  • implementing strategies for unsafe infant sleeping products
  • strengthening product safety online through commitments from online marketplaces, and
  • scoping effective risk controls for toppling furniture.

The ACCC works closely with its state and territory counterparts who regulate product safety across the country. The Product safety priorities are endorsed as national priorities by state and territory Australian Consumer Law regulators.

Correction: This media release was amended on 23 March 2021 to correct the figures for toppling furniture deaths for children to the period between 2001-18, not 2011-18 as originally stated.