The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today urged parents and suppliers to put child safety first with fitness equipment, particularly treadmills.
"Treadmills are a convenient way for adults to stay fit, but they can be extremely dangerous for infants and children," ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell said today.
"Between 1995 and 2010, more than 100 children suffering from a treadmill-related injury were seen at the Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital alone.
"At this time of the new year, fitness is top of mind for many people. Often this involves buying or hiring new fitness equipment. Given the risks and injury data, people need to take steps to ensure their children are safe around this equipment," he said.
"For example, in July 2010 a two-year old Queensland girl had the skin pulled off her hands and arms after falling on the moving rubber belt of a treadmill and required hospital treatment. And just recently, an emergency services officer had to release a young child when she was caught in a treadmill in Canberra.
"Children do not understand the dangers, lack the skills to control the speed of a treadmill and can easily fall and become trapped," Mr Kell said.
"Once trapped, they have little chance of escaping a moving treadmill belt that can quickly strip their clothing and skin, causing serious friction burns that lead to scarring and require skin grafts.
"Sadly, this can also cause children to suffer permanent loss of use in their fingers or hands.
"That is why we have an Australian mandatory safety standard that requires suppliers to ensure that all treadmills carry clearly visible and permanent safety warnings," he said.
Mr Kell said compliance with the standard was an easy matter. He reminded suppliers to ensure that the treadmills they supply have the following warning label displayed in a conspicuous place on the treadmill so that users can easily see it while exercising:
WARNING: keep young children away from this machine at all times. Contact with the moving surface may result in severe friction burns.
"We are currently conducting market surveillance across Australia to ensure that suppliers are complying with this mandatory standard," he said.
Mr Kell warned suppliers who do not comply with the mandatory standard that they not only risk the safety of young Australians, but also risk the expense of product recalls and legal action by the ACCC, including hefty penalties.
Parents with older treadmills that may not have a warning label should also ensure that young children are kept away from the machine at all times.
Safety tips for parents and carers
Mr Kell said treadmills aren't toys for children to play on. Parents and carers should take these additional steps to help protect children:
- place the treadmill in a separate locked room or use safety barriers to keep children away
- select a treadmill with a safety stop switch to use in emergencies and which has protective covers that prevent children placing their fingers in moving parts
- unplug the treadmill when you are not using it and keep the area around it clear of objects, and
- take care when purchasing second-hand treadmills as they may not comply with current mandatory standards.
The ACCC's safety alert brochure on domestic treadmills includes information on hazards and safety tips for this product. It is available on this website at Safety alert - Domestic treadmills.
Ms Lin Enright, Director, Public Relations, (02) 6243 1108, or 0414 613 520
Release # NR 23/11
Infocentre 1300 302 502