Product safety for your family

By Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

Did you know that children under four years of age have the highest risk of injury? For this reason most products for this age group must meet certain safety standards.

These products include cots, portable cots, child restraints for motor vehicles, baby walkers, prams and strollers, bath seats, toys for children under three, pool toys and dummies. When shopping for products for your family it’s important to have an eye for detail. But make safety the priority rather than colour, style or trend.

Tips to avoid buying unsafe products

Before purchasing a product you should:

  • Search online for the products you are interested in. Some good websites to refer to include: – choice.com.au for test results, buying guides and helpful information about specific products. – productsafety.gov.au and recalls.gov.au to see if any products you are interested in have been recalled in the past - and commerce.wa.gov.au for safety information on children’s toys and furniture
  • Consider joining a parenting blog, a lot of really good information is exchanged on these blogs, but make sure you can check the accuracy of any advice given
  • Don’t purchase children’s products (especially in the nursery area) from markets. These are high risk areas as due to the small size of the supplier/manufacturer it is highly unlikely that materials are tested to safety standards, or quality control processes are employed
  • Take extra care when using handed down products or buying second hand. Although these products may be good value, they may not meet the latest safety standards or may be damaged in a way that may not be obvious. The safety instructions may also be missing

Serious injuries can be caused by using products incorrectly by using products that are unsafe.

  • Be aware of ‘hidden’ hazards such as blind cords, ethanol fireplaces, button batteries, magnets, soft sleeping surfaces and unstable furniture
  • Conduct your own safety check using the Five S’s of Toy Safety:
      • Size: the smaller the child the bigger the toy should be.
      • Shape: be wary of products that can be easily swallowed or have sharp edges or points.
      • Surface: make sure the finishes are non-toxic (this should be stated on packaging).
      • Strings: anything over 30cm is a strangulation risk for a small child and should be removed.
      • Supervision: nothing replaces close supervision.
  • Be careful when buying products online, do your homework first as it may be difficult to get a refund from an overseas supplier if the product proves to be unsafe
  • What if you buy a product and something goes wrong? As a consumer you have certain rights to have a product repaired, fixed or refunded at no cost under some circumstances, such as:
      • You buy something but didn’t realise that it was broken or unsafe
      • You buy something but it breaks down or falls apart after a short time
      • You buy something but it doesn’t match how the business described it. It might be the wrong size, colour, shape or look different to what you were told
      • The business showed you a sample, but the actual product doesn’t match what you first saw
      • The business misinformed you on what their product could do. This could be from their salesperson, a sign or an ad
      • When buying a product be aware or the company’s exchange policy. You may not be entitled to a refund if you change your mind.

If something does go wrong you should:

  • Stop using the product
  • Return it to the store or call them as soon as possible
  • Make sure you have proof of purchase, such as a receipt and take it with you when you return the goods
  • If the product is unsafe report it to the Office of Fair Trading

For more information on consumer rights and product safety visit the ACCC website here.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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