Product safety and peace of mind

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The rapid spread of internet shopping has changed the face of the retail marketplace forever. Parents, family and friends are now faced with limitless choice when buying items for babies, toddlers and children. But how do you know that the item you're buying is safe?

Australian Consumer Law

Australians are protected by safety laws when it comes to many consumer products, officially codified as Australian Consumer Law.

While these laws apply to any supplier of goods to the Australian marketplace, the practical enforcement and regulation of these laws is complicated by internet retailers. For example, there are many instances of cheap knockoff goods entering the marketplace from overseas manufacturers that don’t comply to Australia’s mandatory safety standards and are, in fact, hazardous to health. One of the most concerning of recent years was the sale of toddler car seats from online Chinese retailers – these seats did not comply with Australian safety standards.

Mandatory safety standards

Many of the most common baby, toddler and child products supplied to the marketplace are covered by mandatory safety laws. That means that compulsory safety features must be built into these items, and they must also come with guidelines for their safe use.

Some of these items include:

  • bathing aids
  • baby walkers
  • child restraints
  • cots and bassinets
  • sleeping clothes
  • prams and strollers
  • toys, aquatic toys and swimming aids.

Suppliers whose products do not comply with mandatory standards are breaking the law.

The responsibility of retailers

Retailers, as suppliers of goods to the Australian marketplace, must comply with Australian Consumer Law. Although not themselves manufacturers, they have a responsibility to ensure that the products they sell:

  • meet mandatory levels of safety
  • will not cause harm when used in a reasonable manner, including reasonable misuse.

This includes both ensuring that their products are safe when reasonably used and ensuring that they are sold with information about how to be used safely.

Retailers must also roll out recall action plans if an item they sell is found to be defective or unsafe.

Your child’s safety and your peace of mind

When buying products for a baby, toddler or child, ensure that you are doing so from a reputable manufacturer or retailer who complies with Australian Consumer Law.

By doing so, you will not only be protected in theory by the law, but in practice too. An established retailer’s communications will be able to reach you in the event of a product recall; their sales are trackable, and they keep extensive records; and there is more expert guidance at point of sale and better avenues of customer service available. In short, you have recourse in the event you have purchased a faulty or hazardous product or if there is a general product recall.

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