The consumer watchdog is calling for an overhaul of Australia’s product safety laws to help reduce the two deaths and 145 injuries it says are caused each day by unsafe products.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said on Thursday that Australia’s product safety laws lag those in other developed countries because they are largely reactive and come into place after consumers have been harmed.
“Many people are surprised to learn that it is not illegal to sell unsafe goods in Australia,” Mr Sims said.
“There is no law that says goods have to be safe, but there should be.”
Occurrences of electrocution from faulty appliances, burns from ignited flammable clothing, choking on children’s toys and suffocation in cots and beds could all be reduced by the government adopting a general safety provisioning, the ACCC believes.
The ACCC estimates that, excluding motor vehicle accidents, there are about 780 deaths and 52,000 injuries per year from consumer products.
The watchdog puts the minimum annual cost of injury and death from unsafe consumer products at $5 billion.
“A general safety provision will give greater confidence that the goods they buy are safe,” Mr Sims said.
“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.”