Since many imported consumer products are sold in Australia, importers play a vital role in product safety. Under Australian product safety laws, importers are treated as manufacturers in the supply chain. Importers often have control or influence over product design and other aspects of products. If you are an importer, follow the steps here to ensure that you only import safe products for the Australian market.
To reduce the risk of breaching product safety regulations, importers should consider using a product safety compliance procedure for every product they import. If you are an importer, set up a procedure that at least includes:
conducting a hazard analysis and risk assessment for each product line
finding out if mandatory product safety standards or bans apply
understanding the details of requirements for any relevant regulations that apply to product lines
finding out if and what mandatory warnings, information and instructions need to go on or with the product before it enters the Australian market
knowing your manufacturers and the products that they supply to you—do your research and visit tyour manufacturers whereever possible
understanding all the testing and quality assurance processes that the products you are importing have gone through. It is vital to ensure that the testers are properly certified and qualified, such as through NATA and/or JAS-ANZ
identifying products that require further testing and find the right testers—see below
developing good stock control procedures
developing a recall plan, including when to conduct a recall and the procedures.
Although manufacturers are usually in charge of a product’s design stage, importers can often have control or influence over design and other aspects, such as marketing and safety instructions. You should make sure that manufacturers design safety into products.
Many products need testing to check that they are safe. While you can visually check some safety aspects, performance and strength requirements need qualified and accredited testers with the right equipment. This is usually the only way that suppliers can know if their products meet safety standards.
As an importer you must ensure that the manufacturer has got any required tests done before sending the products. You can do this by:
asking for independent assessment and certification for the product—see information on testing
reading reports on tests done on the products you intend to import and see if they comply with mandatory standards, or other safety measures.
Importers often deal in many different types of products. Stock control can be a challenge, especially for large volumes of low value items. Even so, as an importer you have a vital responsibility to supply safe products to the Australian public. To do this, it is essential that you have a risk management process in place.
Australian/New Zealand Standard 4360:2004 ‘Risk management’ provides general advice on managing risk. Suppliers should apply this standard to all stages in the life of a product. You usually get the most benefit when you apply the risk management process right from the start.