The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman has expressed his concern about the number of retailers who are supplying unsafe goods, particularly low value goods sourced from overseas.

At the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation Asia-Pacific Symposium in the Gold Coast, Sims said the ACCC has a range of enforcement options, including specific product safety provisions, which it will apply if retailers contravene the law as a result of taking shortcuts in their product design and purchasing procedures.

“We are concerned by indications that some major retailers appear not to have satisfactory processes in place to meet their responsibility properly to ensure the safety of the goods they sell,” he said.

He advised in order for retailers to avoid breaking the consumer protection laws they need to consider their processes.

“If major retailers are discovered to have taken shortcuts in applying basic quality assurance and control measures, at the expense of consumer safety, we will take action in any way we can,” Sims said.

One reform which has enabled ACCC to provide a nationally harmonised product safety regime was the introduction of the mandatory reporting requirement. This was incorporated into the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC now receives over 2,500 mandatory reports every year.

“Suppliers must now notify the ACCC of incidents they become aware of where a person has received a serious injury that they, or someone, associates with a consumer product,” Sims said. “This notification is required within two days.”

The reforms have led to a significant involvement in the management of recalls. The ACCC negotiated 91 recalls last financial year, resulting in over two million additional hazardous products being recalled from the Australian market.

“In some cases, the ACCC has identified safety issues across an entire market segment and negotiated a number of recalls to ensure that the problem has been rectified across that market segment,” Sims said.