Wotton + Kearney releases product liability report

Wotton + Kearney releases product liability report | Insurance Business Australia

Wotton + Kearney releases product liability report

Wotton + Kearney (W + K) has released its Product Liability Update report, which delves into the key trends, areas of regulatory focus, and emerging risks in product liability insurance in Australia and New Zealand.

In its latest update, W + K looked at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) focus on safety issues affecting young children, recent related cases in Australia and New Zealand, and the latest insights into product safety news in the medical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing sectors.

Safety issues affecting young children

In June 2022, the ACCC revealed its product priorities for the 2022-23 financial year, mainly focusing on safety issues affecting young children, including compliance, enforcement, and education initiatives. Specifically, it aims to address high-risk safety issues in consumer products for young children, such as small high-powered magnets, baby dummies and dummy chains, sleep aids, and toys for children under three.

“Data over the last 20 years shows that around three infant deaths occur each year associated with inclined sleep products and other infant sleep aids,” W + K wrote in the report. “There have also been several recalls this year in this category, largely related to choking hazards, including items such as teething toys, products containing button batteries, infant rattle products, and soft toys. Notably, these recalls have extended to global online marketplaces such as Etsy.”

The ACCC's response to injuries and deaths caused by infant sleeping products

The ACCC will finalise strategies to prevent injuries and deaths caused by infant sleeping products by:

  • Consulting stakeholders on the costs and benefits of a range of potential policy options to prevent injuries and deaths caused by infant-inclined products;
  • Determining whether regulatory action should be recommended to the minister, including whether it is appropriate to recommend a safety standard be implemented under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL); and
  • Increasing education and awareness of the hazards associated with infant-inclined products.

The ACCC's response to injuries and deaths caused by toppling furniture

Aside from focusing on injuries and deaths caused by infant sleeping products, the ACCC aims to address the safety risks of free-standing furniture and TVs.

“Toppling furniture has resulted in at least 28 deaths in Australia since 2000 and continues to cause close to 20 injuries every week. Children under the age of five are most at risk of serious harm and suffer the highest proportion of deaths and injuries in Australia,” W + K said.

As a result, the ACCC will improve the safety of toppling furniture by:

  • Consulting stakeholders on the costs and benefits of a range of potential policy options to prevent injuries and deaths caused by toppling furniture;
  • Determining whether regulatory action should be recommended to the minister, including if it is appropriate to recommend a safety standard implemented under the ACL; and
  • Increasing education and awareness of the safety hazards associated with toppling furniture.

See the rest of the report on the W + K website.