Every year a stream of everyday household products are recalled over safety concerns, with some even resulting in tragic deaths across Australia. But shocking new figures now show millions could still be in circulation despite the warnings.
The ACCC is clamping down on the distribution of unsafe products, claiming many families are “at risk of injuries or even death” from a staggering 6.6 million individual products currently under voluntary recall – with around half of these still likely to be found in people’s homes.
Figures show the ACCC is notified of around 650 consumer product recalls every year, however only half of the products affected are ever returned to sellers. It essentially leaves one in four Australian households exposed to potential hazards.
“In Australia, two people die and 145 people are injured every day by unsafe consumer products,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said. “Many people would be surprised to learn there is currently no law that requires businesses to not sell unsafe products.”
She added: “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.”
The ACCC is now calling on the government to ensure businesses comply with a “new safety duty”, meaning they must take “reasonable steps” to ensure the products they sell are not unsafe. There are however steps that consumers can take themselves to ensure they remain aware of recalls when they happen – including signing up to the Product Safety Australia website to receive product recall alerts as they happen.
Among the figures, it was revealed that toys and Takata airbags have accounted for some of the highest number of recalls over the last year.
“Toys and products for babies and children accounted for almost one in three 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,” Court 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.”
According to Product Safety Australia, “the Takata airbag recall is the world’s largest automotive recall, affecting an estimated 100 million vehicles globally. It is the most significant compulsory recall in Australia’s history, with over four million affected Takata airbag inflators and involving more than three million vehicle recalls”.
The stats comes as the ACCC joined a global OECD campaign on product recalls. Products with a recall warning in Australia are listed on the OECD website here.