Businesses face the prospect of a “new safety duty” being introduced, as the ACCC warned that more than 6 million products remain in circulation nationally despite being subject to voluntary recalls.
The consumer and competition watchdog said that it is notified of around 650 consumer product recalls in Australia each year, but that just half of these products are actually returned to sellers.
“Excluding motor vehicle recalls, this amounts to about 1.7 million recalled products remaining in people’s homes, or almost one in four Australian households exposed to potential hazards,” it said.
As a consequence, the ACCC is pushing for the government to strength the Australian Consumer Law to require businesses to comply with what it called a “new safety duty”.
If implemented, businesses would have to take “reasonable steps” to ensure the products they introduce to the market for sale are not unsafe.
“In Australia, two people die and 145 people are injured every day by unsafe consumer products,” said ACCC commissioner Sarah Court.
“Many people would be surprised to learn there is currently no law that requires businesses to not sell unsafe products.
“We believe prevention is better than cure, and that legally requiring businesses to take steps to ensure the safety of their products before they enter the market is needed to protect Australian consumers.”
According to Ms Court, products and toys that are sold for use by children and babies account for close to a third of the safety recalls monitored by the ACCC.
“It is really important that people sign up to ACCC product safety alerts and register products with manufacturers so they stay informed about recalls and can act to remove unsafe products from their homes,” she said.
“We also have the biggest recall in Australian history underway: potentially deadly Takata airbags can still found in about half a million cars. It is vital that consumers don’t ignore recall information if they receive a letter, email or text from a manufacturer.”