Emerging technology risks among ACCC product safety priorities

Published

Risks associated with the use of emerging technology in consumer products such as lithium-ion battery powered products and virtual reality products will be a key focus of the ACCC’s product safety priorities during 2024-25, ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb announced today.

Addressing the National Consumer Congress in Sydney, Ms Cass-Gottlieb explained the importance of the ACCC’s role in protecting consumers from unsafe products and detailed five priority areas.

“Consumers rightly expect the products they buy to be safe,” Ms Cass Gottlieb said.

“The priorities that I am announcing today will guide the work we do to protect consumers now and into the future.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said the ACCC would continue to assess the product safety risks of emerging product types and consider how the existing safety legislative framework can be applied to support safe and responsible practices in relation to the use of emerging technology.  

“We will seek to better understand future product safety risks through our engagement with key stakeholders and our international counterparts.

“We will also bolster our capabilities in identifying emerging product safety issues quickly and effectively with improved data.”

Ms Cass Gottlieb said the ACCC would continue to focus on protecting young children from unsafe products, particularly nursery products including furniture, baby bottle self-feeding devices and infant sleep products.

“The safety of young children, who we know are among the most vulnerable to harm from unsafe products, will again be a significant focus of our product safety work throughout 2024-25,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

“Baby bottle self-feeding products are of particular concern to the ACCC, as they are a relatively new product sold mostly online. These products are designed for babies to bottle feed with little to no supervision from a caregiver and can pose a choking risk.”

“We will also encourage businesses to familiarise themselves with the requirements of the new information standard for toppling furniture, and businesses will have a 12-month transition period to comply. This information standard was introduced following an ACCC recommendation to the government, as more than 900 Australians, many of them young children, are injured or require medical assistance every year as a result of toppling furniture” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

Sustainability and maintaining product safety throughout the transition to a net-zero economy, continues as a priority area for the ACCC. This priority reflects rapidly evolving markets and a longer-term shift towards more environmentally sustainable products.

“We want to ensure consumers can have confidence in the safety of sustainable products,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

The ACCC recently accepted an enforceable undertaking from LG to increase its efforts to alert and protect consumers from faulty energy storage batteries that can overheat and catch fire without warning.

“There has been a notable shift towards more sustainable consumption with a growing number of second-hand marketplaces online, particularly as cost-of-living pressures continue to impact consumers,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

“To help keep consumers safe, we will be developing guidance for buyers and sellers on reducing safety risks from reused or second-hand goods that are sold online.”

Product safety online also remains a priority for the ACCC, Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

“We will look to strengthen our approach to meeting the challenges consumers face today in the digital economy through targeted engagement with online marketplaces aiming to reduce the prevalence of unsafe product listings on their sites, and the continued development of the Australian Safety Pledge.”

More information including the full list of the ACCC’s product safety priorities is available at Product safety priorities 2024-25

A transcript of Ms Cass-Gottlieb’s National Consumer Congress address is available on the ACCC website.

Responsible regulator

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

https://www.productsafety.gov.au/contact-us/for-consumers/make-an-enquiry

Reference number

73/24