Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), suppliers are responsible for selling consumer products that are safe and fit for purpose.
If you supply consumer products in Australia at any stage in the supply chain, you are legally responsible for product safety. As well as products that are subject to a mandatory safety standard or ban, you are also responsible for products that may not be subject to mandatory safety requirements. In fact, non-regulated products are often the cause of injury.
When sourcing products, always check:
- the factory from which your products are sourced has been audited regularly to ensure that proper controls are in place
- raw materials have been tested
- assembly line processes are followed and quality checks are performed
- pre-shipment inspections are carried out with adequate supervision by qualified staff appointed by the retailer
- staff training is current and adequate.
When products are designed and developed for supply to consumers, it is generally not enough to have a pre-production sample of the products safety tested and no further quality assurance or control measures applied.
As a supplier, you should:
- request test reports from a manufacturer, wholesaler or agent to an applicable safety standard whenever you purchase products domestically or from overseas
- commission your own tests (where possible) to be performed by a suitably accredited laboratory – most products can be tested to an Australian standard, some of which are cited in Australian safety regulations.
See: Product testing
To ensure the consumer products you purchase for supply are safe and of good quality:
- request a pre-shipment inspection to be performed at the factory before the products are released for shipment
- choose a pre-shipment inspection service provider that offers a reliable service that is also cost-effective
- check that your pre-shipment inspector is trained to carry out tests and measurements for your product
- confirm with the service provider that their inspections are carried out in accordance with well-established international standards
- make sure you understand the information in the inspection report and clarify anything that seems unclear
- consider developing a customised inspection protocol that itemises particular points of quality concern or safety for the products you are purchasing
- confirm any issues raised during the inspection are addressed prior to shipment.
Other compliance measures
There are a number of other measures you can take to ensure products you purchase for supply are safe, compliant and of acceptable quality.
- developing documented quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) processes
- training staff in QA and QC processes, mandatory safety standards and the ACL
- performing random stock audits in distribution centres or stores
- commissioning factory audits and/or requesting evidence of compliance with ISO 9000 (or equivalent)
- engaging the services of professional QA and QC consultants
- purchasing recall insurance.