Mandatory safety standards specify minimum requirements that products must meet before they are supplied. They are introduced when considered reasonably necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to a person.
If a product is subject to a mandatory standard, it must meet specific safety criteria before it can be sold in Australia. These can relate to:
- methods of manufacture or processing
- packaging or labelling.
Mandatory information standards ensure that consumers are provided with important information about a product to assist them in making a purchasing decision.
Information standards do not necessarily relate to the safety aspects of a product. For example, information standards may cover ingredient labelling for cosmetics, labelling for tobacco products, or care labelling for clothing and textiles.
Voluntary standards are published documents setting out specifications and procedures designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe, reliable and consistently perform as intended. They may address a range of issues that are not safety related.
A voluntary standard often exists where experts have already identified ways to address the safety problem. In these instances, the Federal Government may make all or part of the voluntary standard mandatory.
It is legal to supply products that do not meet voluntary standards.
When considering whether to introduce a mandatory standard, the Federal Government conducts research and consults with industry and consumer representatives to develop a regulation impact statement (RIS).
The RIS weighs up evidence of:
- current market forces influencing the product and market
- causes of potential dangers
- options for reducing the risk for consumers
- potential economic and social impact of regulatory and non-regulatory measures.
Under the Australian Consumer Law supply includes:
- in relation to goods - (including re-supply) by way of sale, exchange, lease, hire or hire-purchase
- in relation to services - provide, grant or confer.
A mandatory standard on a particular product applies to anyone in the business of supplying that product, including: