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351 Consumer product safety policy revisited
  1. Joan Ozanne-Smith
  1. Monash University, Department of Forensic Medicine, Australia

Abstract

Background Consumer products are associated with mutiple deaths and millions of hospital treated injuries each year in the developed world, with the health sector bearing much of the multi-billion dollar cost.

Description of the problem In Australia, as in many countries, consumer product safety is administered by multiple jurisdictions – often with blurred boundaries between jurisdictional responsibilities. Under the Australian Consumer Law (2011) – Trade Practices Amendment Act – consumer goods are defined as “goods that are intended to be used, or are of a kind likely to be used, for personal, domestic or household use or consumption”. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission administers this law as it applies to product safety, but only for certain products. Since injuries and their prevention do not follow jurisdictional boundaries, from the public health perspective, a broader response to consumer goods is desirable to include any manufactured product likely to be used by consumers.

Aims As exemplefied by Australia, to explore complexities and shortcomings of the product safety system and to propose remedies to improve the alignment of public health, public policy and the legal operating framework to enhance product safety.

Results Using research examples (domestic ladders, motorised mobility scooters and fire risk reduced cigarettes), the problem will be summarised by investigation of the adequacy of existing data systems to identify injuries associated with these existing and emerging products; the effects of jurisdictional boundaries on product safety; the reactive nature of the system and related limitations; and the lack of an adequate scientific evidence base to proactively guide much of the related regulatory process (e.g. Product Safety Standards).

Conclusions Potential new multi-sector approaches to developing a more proactive product safety system that aligns evidence with public policy and the regulatory system will be proposed.

  • Product safety
  • evidence
  • policy

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