As the front line of new product approvals, Austest Labs fields many inquiries per week from tradesmen and small importers that have imported electrical items (particularly from sites such as Alibaba), requesting quotes for gaining product approval, never to hear from them again, once faced with the not insignificant cost of testing to electrical safety, EMC, energy efficiency or other mandatory Australian requirements.

We know they have already imported the items, so it’s naive to think they have been thrown away.  Products range from desk lamps and other portable lights, wall mount power supplies and USB chargers, thru to light fittings and LED drivers.  The latter may be installed into roof cavities (out of sight, out of mind) and function for some time before issues arise, either failing prematurely or at worst, causing fires.  Many home owners may be unaware of the installation of non conforming product in their homes.

We see many overseas test reports (from Chinese labs in particular) that are fraudulent or fake copies of other reports.  We also receive reports from particular labs that have the same results/measured values, irrespective of the product.  Naive importers may rely upon these electrical safety and EMC reports as a basis of Australian declarations of product conformity, which leaves open litigation if found to be selling non conforming product under ACCC, ACMA or State based legislation.

Importers have little understanding on the cost of recalls and are not aware that regulators able to go after anyone in the supply chain.  This can have particular impact on resellers who incorrectly believe legal responsibility solely lies with the importer.  Anyone who touches a product in the supply chain can be liable for recall costs.

Pressure is finally mounting on non-compliant electrical products sold in Australia. Infinity cable is but one example.  Here’s the ACCC list of electrical items subject to recall in recent months.

Cable Subject to recall and thought to be installed in 40,000 homes
Cable Subject to recall and thought to be installed in 40,000 homes

The ABC’s 7.30 Report covered the issue of non-conforming product in their program on Wednesday 24 June.

As a member of AiGroup (Australian Industry Group) Austest Labs contributed to their landmark study in 2013 “The quest for a level playing field The non-conforming building product dilemma”  and will be making a submission to the recently announced Senate inquiry. The inquiry (instigated by Senators Nick Xenophon, John Madigan and Jackie Lambie), is due to report by 12 October 2015 and seeks to investigate the reasons for the proliferation of materials in the building chain that do not meet local standards or may conform, but which are used inappropriately.

Austest clients are encouraged to share their experiences of non conforming electrical products, which can form part of our submission to the inquiry.