The ACCC conducts regular audits on all regulated products, including products that are subject to mandatory safety standards, mandatory information standards and are banned from sale.
Each year we conduct major safety audits on a number of products where there are indications that non-compliance with specific regulations is an issue. The audits include a national series of surveys to determine the level of compliance in the market (including online suppliers). Audits are also conducted on unsafe goods that are not subject to any specific mandatory standard.
Smaller scale surveys are also conducted across Australia to ensure we have market information about supply and the level of compliance for regulated products. The ACCC employs a risk-based approach to surveillance, ensuring resources are dedicated to high priority issues.
The following products have been prioritised to undergo surveillance and testing across Australia between July 2019 and June 2020:
- Aquatic toys
- Balloon-blowing kits
- Bean bags
- Bicycle helmets
- Child restraints for use in motor vehicles
- Convertible tricycles
- Cosmetics and toiletries
- Cots (household)
- DEHP in children's plastic items
- Disposable cigarette lighters
- Hot water bottles
- Mini jelly cups containing konjac
- Miniature motorbikes with unsafe design features
- Portable swimming pools
- Recovery straps for motor vehicles
- Toys containing lead and other elements
- Toys (projectile)
- Toys for children up to and including 36 months of age
- Undeclared knives or cutters in stationery sets
- Yo-yo water balls
For results from recent surveillance activities, see Surveillance results.
If you are a supplier, an ACCC inspector may conduct surveillance in your online and physical retail stores. They may purchase products from your online store or visit your local store and conduct physical checks there. They may also purchase a number of products from you for testing against the relevant mandatory standard or ban. ACCC inspectors are usually dressed in plain clothes and will pose as a regular consumer.
There are times where they may need more information or need your assistance to check a product in more detail. In these cases, inspectors will inform you that they are from the ACCC, show you their inspector badge and ask for your permission to continue with the surveillance. If you do not consent, the inspectors must leave your premises immediately.
If an ACCC audit identifies a non-compliant product, suppliers are required to:
- remove these products from sale
- conduct a voluntary recall.
In serious instances, we may take immediate enforcement action that can include issuing Infringement Notices or court action with maximum penalties being the greater of $10 million, three times the value of the benefit received, or where the benefit cannot be calculated, 10 per cent of annual turnover in the preceding 12 months. Each supplier in the supply chain is responsible for compliance and ensuring products are safe and fit for purpose, regardless of where they may be in the supply chain, or whether they are domestic or overseas manufacturers, suppliers or distributors. Suppliers include manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers. There will often be more than one supplier responsible for a particular product.
See: Fines & penalties
Follow-up surveillance and testing are always conducted to ensure suppliers do not resupply any further non-compliant products.
Businesses should develop a compliance program to help reduce the risk of:
- causing injury or death through the supply of non-compliant products
- ACCC action for non-compliance.