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Product testing

View the webcast of our 21 June 2011 webinar The why & how of product testing via YouTube.

All suppliers should ensure the goods they supply are not banned, meet mandatory safety standards and meet any claims made about them.

Why test?

Bans and mandatory standards often prescribe technical performance requirements that suppliers must meet if they wish to put particular products on the market in Australia. Current lists of mandatory standards and bans are available from this website. Use the lists of standards and bans to:

  • identify the items in your current stock or intended stock that must comply
  • check for features similar to those in planned, new or modified products to find out whether they may also need to meet standards.

Voluntary standards may also prescribe technical performance specifications. It is illegal to state that a product meets a voluntary safety standard when it does not. 

To show evidence that technical performance specifications in any standard are met, suppliers may want to arrange testing by independent, specialist testing bodies or laboratories. 

Options for testing

There are several ways you can gain written evidence that your products comply with safety laws:

  • conduct your own testing, using suitable in-house expertise and facilities
  • commission a certification agency to assess products and provide written certification of compliance with safety standards. Laboratory testing will be part of the certification process. This enables you to use certification labelling on relevant products
  • commission reliable, independent and preferably accredited laboratories to test products and issue you with test reports
  • ask your suppliers for written evidence of safety compliance through third-party product certification or product testing, including copies of test reports, preferably from accredited test bodies or laboratories. 

Test laboratories & accreditation

Although it is not always compulsory for test laboratories to carry accreditation, it is preferable to commission and/or otherwise obtain reports and testing from accredited laboratories because:

  • they are subject to regular and vigorous assessment by an independent agency
  • their reports have more credibility in the event of a court case.

Accreditation bodies such as The National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) and its international counterparts provide strict independent assessments of, and accreditation for, competence in testing against specific safety standards.

When checking a test laboratory’s accreditation, remember to ask:

  • what does the accreditation cover?
  • which specific standards or parts of standards is the laboratory accredited to test for?
  • does the accreditation relate directly to the required testing?
  • what is the accreditation reference number?
  • is the accreditation limited and, if so, how?
  • is the accreditation current?
  • what other relevant details apply?

Remember: accreditation to test for one standard, or part of a standard, does not mean a laboratory is accredited to test for the whole standard or another standard. It is vital to check for accreditation for the particular testing required, including all relevant parts of a standard.

Tips

This checklist outlines issues you should consider when having your products tested.

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