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Mandatory safety reporting fiasco

CHOICE says consumers shouldn’t be kept waiting in the dark when a product kills or injures someone

26 September 2016

Consumer group CHOICE is warning the Federal Government not to relax the mandatory reporting requirements for businesses whose products kill or injure someone as it risks further compromising a product safety system that is already failing consumers.   

The warning comes following a push by retailers for the mandatory reporting period to be relaxed from 48 hours to four days in submissions to the Australian Consumer Law review. The current legislation requires businesses to make a timely report after being notified their product has caused a death or serious injury. 

"It's ridiculous to suggest the timeframe for mandatory reporting should be relaxed and symptomatic of a culture within industry that all too often puts profit and brand management ahead of consumer safety," says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey. 

"The timeframe for making mandatory reports is set at two days because this is a critical matter with real, potentially devastating, impacts on consumers. The legal framework needs to push retailers and manufacturers to take their responsibilities seriously. 

"The last thing consumers' need is for our already poor product safety system to be weakened even further. 

"Australia is in the grip of a dodgy product boom with our recall rate far outstripping the UK. This is not the time to relax product safety laws, we need to strengthen the system, increase penalties and dramatically improve transparency.   

"Reporting serious safety issues, in a timely way, means that regulators can act quickly to avoid further injuries or deaths, for example by issuing a permanent or interim ban. 
 CHOICE's warning also comes in the wake of Woolworths failing to make a mandatory safety report for 377 days, after a consumer was seriously burned when the handle fell off her deep fryer.

"Woolworths showed a complete disregard for the two day mandatory reporting requirement and consumer safety. They also failed to act on their first victim's concerns that other customers would be injured and sadly, a month later, another serious injury occurred," Mr Godfrey says. 

"This is a clear illustration of why mandatory incident reports should be made within 48 hours and made public. I'm sure many Australians would be concerned to learn that since 2011 more than 10,000 reports have been made yet we are only aware of eight, and that's only as a result of court proceedings against Woolworths."

Businesses can easily and quickly make mandatory incident reports here: https://www.productsafety.gov.au/contact-us/for-retailers-suppliers/mandatory-injury-report 

Media contact:

Tom Godfrey – 0430 172 669 – tgodfrey@choice.com.au