Infant Products Safety

Robyn McDonald Consumer Affairs


Acheiving The Goal - Safe Products And Safe Use


Drawn From The Ministerial Infant Products Safety Forum

January 1998

I was delighted to initiate the Infant Products Safety Forum from which this
Agenda for Action has been developed.

For the first time ever this Forum brought together Government agencies,
parent groups, manufacturers and child safety experts to discuss infant product
safety issues and develop an action plan to improve safety.

I was pleased with the number of participants who were willing to give both
of their time, and to provide positive views for discussion. We also had some
excellent thought provoking papers presented during the day.

We have established that there are five key areas for us to focus on and more
importantly deliver on. One critical area identified is the need to focus on
information and education and to ensure better co-ordination of safety messages
to New Zealanders.

I acknowledge the work and role which the Ministry of Consumer Affairs
undertakes in improving infant product safety and it is important that we build
on the Ministry's foundation. This Agenda for Action is our next proactive step.

So that we can make rapid progress, I encourage New Zealanders to respond and
contribute to the Agenda Action points outlined in this discussion document, so
we can finalise and importantly, take concerted, positive action to improving
infant produce safety.

I thank everyone who has contributed and I look forward to the implementation
of our Agenda for Action.

Hon. Robyn McDonald
Minister of Consumer Affairs

Executive Summary

All New Zealanders have a strong interest in the safety of the products that
they buy and use. We are all particularly concerned about the safety of infants
products. In discussing safety the key issues are

  • safe construction and
  • safe use.

Safe products and safe use will only be achieved if everyone
plays their part.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has a key role in achieving safety and so do
you. This paper sets out what the Ministry is doing, and details an agenda for
partnership action.

The agenda draws heavily on the Ministerial Infant Products Safety Forum,
held in Wellington in October 1997. The Forum provided a unique opportunity for
many interested parties to share their views about what can and should be done
to achieve safety. That opportunity is repeated through the development of this

Issues covered at the Forum included: the Ministry of Consumer Affairs
strategies, self regulation, injury data, standards and enforcement, a
manufacturers perspective on the safety of children's and nursery products,
infants products and healthcare, perspectives from Maori and Pacific Island
presenters and Plunket. There were workshop discussions on issues for traders,
consumers, and on product safety standards.

However, while workshops and discussions are important, action is

This paper records the issues discussed at the Forum, as well as other useful
information, but it is really about action. And the key part of the paper is the
"agenda for action".

Please read the paper and provide some feedback to ensure the action
suggested is the best possible to ensure safe products and safe use.

Please provide any comments you wish to make to the Ministry of Consumer
Affairs, PO Box 1473, Wellington by Friday 24 April 1998.

An Agenda for Action

Improving infant products safety - safe construction and safe use - depends
on everyone from designer through to end-user.

We need a concerted approach. This can occur as a partnership between
traders, parents and caregivers, family and health support groups and the
Ministry. It must be an action oriented partnership where everyone does their

Following some internal reorganisation, since 1 October 1997, the Ministry of
Consumer Affairs plays its part in achieving safety by doing the following

  • receiving and investigating complaints about unsafe products and pro-actively inspecting products in the marketplace
  • gathering data and identifying trends in safety
  • working with businesses to remove from sale, recall and/or modify unsafe products
  • ensuring where appropriate that mandatory or voluntary safety standards are in place
  • working to encourage business to "self-regulate"
  • educating and informing consumers and businesses about safe products and
    safe use.

These activities are covered in more detail in the proposed agenda set out
below. This agenda also reflects the many ideas and strategies discussed at the
Forum. In looking at the agenda please consider:

what contribution you or your organisation can make to these

what other strategies are appropriate, who / which organisation should
undertake them, and how should they be implemented.

1. Action to remove unsafe products from the market

Undertake pro-active inspections of, product types on the basis of risk
assessment and on an ad-hoc basis.

Work closely and quickly with traders to remove/modify unsafe products from
the market where they are identified through complaints or pro-active inspection

Undertake swift, public responses to those traders who are unwilling or slow
to undertake voluntary recalls.

2. Monitoring Product / Market Developments and their Impact on

Participate with the Ministry's Australian counterparts in the Nursery
Furniture Injury Reduction Programme.

Undertake a small-scale study to collect information on non-hospitalising
injuries associated with infant products, consider the likely causes, and
identify effective solutions.

Work with other interested parties to develop improved collection of infant
products injuries statistics.

3. Ensuring the Presence of Guidelines and Standards for the Development
of Safe Products

Discuss with affected parties ways of securing funding to allow the
continuation of the principal infant products safety standards.

Consider and prepare for the alternative approach of using appropriate
international standards in the event sufficient funding for continued standards
is not available.

Seek ongoing industry commitment to manufacture and supply to infant
products safety standards, and to enforce compliance with those standards where

Incorporate into standards development the concept of a product safety
life-cycle as it would apply to second-hand and products with a long life-span.

Investigate and make appropriate recommendations to the Minister on the
introduction of mandatory standards for prams and strollers, cots and cigarette

4. Strengthening Business Self-Regulatory Activities

Work with the Infant Products Association in ensuring the supply of safe
infant products to New Zealand consumers.

Work with the infant products industry to identify the most appropriate
single, readily understandable safety mark for infant products.

Secure traders' agreement to provide point-of-sale information, both for new
and second-hand products.

5. Informing and Educating Consumers about Safe Use

Help develop a code of practice for infant products traders which will
enable appropriate information to be supplied to consumers purchasing infant

Investigate the use of permanent, informative symbols about safe product use
to overcome English language difficulties for some groups.

Undertake an education and publicity campaign aimed at all parents and
caregivers, and targeting at-risk consumers,

  • publicising the benefits of standards compliance,
  • seeking parents and caregivers assistance in reporting all product safety
    incidents, and
  • reminding them of their responsibilities towards supervision and safe use of
    infant products.


Response To Infant Products Safety Paper

The General Manager
of Consumer Affairs
PO Box 1473
no later than 24 April 1998)

I wish to make the following comments in response to the Discussion Paper:

Other strategies that are also appropriate are, and they can be
implemented by:

I (or my organisation) can contribute to the strategies for
Infant Products Safety by:


Contact Details: (Tel) ( )

(Fax) ( )



This paper sets out

  • information about the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and its role in achieving
    safe products and safe use
  • the issues considered by the Infant Products Safety Forum and the
    implications these issues may have for action in New Zealand
  • the approach taken to infant products safety in a number of other countries
    (Appendix 1), and
  • includes relevant extracts from the Ministry's policy paper, Mandatory
    and Voluntary Product Standards
    , which summarises issues relevant to the
    introduction of mandatory standards (Appendix 2) and
  • a record of presentations made at the Forum (Appendix 3).


The Ministry of Consumer Affairs exists
to promote a fair and informed marketplace. As part of this function, it
administers the Fair Trading Act 1986. Part of the Act deals with product safety
and gives the Minister of Consumer Affairs power to declare products 'unsafe',
to make mandatory product safety standards, and to order compulsory recalls.

All these powers have been used and will be used in future if necessary to
achieve safety.

As part of its ongoing responsibilities, the Ministry maintains a consumer
safety function which monitors unsafe products through the receipt of consumer
complaints, investigates these products and seeks suitable remedial action from
the manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. The Ministry also engages in
'proactive' examinations of consumer products in the market. In the year to 30
June 1997, the Ministry received 176 complaints. Of these, 69 were investigated.
The remainder were considered minor in nature (but entered in the Ministry's
database for future reference). Of the complaints investigated, two related to
infant deaths and 11 to infant injuries associated with use of consumer

The Ministry also participates in the development of standards for several
key safety areas. In addition to the current mandatory standards for toys,
children's nightclothes and children's bicycles, the Ministry's voluntary
standards development work includes cots, prams and cigarette lighters. The
Ministry overviews other standards activities including bunks, high chairs and
playground equipment.

From 1 October 1997, the Ministry merged its trade measurement and consumer
safety functions. With no additional resources available to it, this has allowed
the Ministry to draw on the skills, experience and regional presence of staff.
The efficiencies created by this merger will mean a greater local presence for
consumer safety investigations - both reactive and proactive.

Furthermore, with both a national presence and a focused commitment at the
Ministry's Head Office, a greater level of media activity and a renewed urgency
to remove unsafe products from the market can be expected. The Ministry will not
hesitate to recommend recalls and banning in appropriate cases.


Section 32 of the Fair Trading Act 1986 authorises the Minister
of Consumer Affairs to require a trader to recall any goods that will or may
cause injury to any person, where this is established as a matter of objective
fact. This authority includes the power to require the trader to publicly
disclose the nature of the fault, or the nature of the circumstances in which
the product is unsafe, and require the trader to repair or replace the product,
or refund a reasonable amount of the purchase price to the consumer. Organising
a mandatory recall can itself take a long time, as it involves investigation,
negotiation and discussion to ensure that the terms of natural justice are fully

However, most recalls are undertaken voluntarily by traders when they become
aware of a faulty product or part. The provisions of the Fair Trading Act allow
the Minister to institute a mandatory recall if such a voluntary recall is
taking too long.

Recent experiences have indicated that some traders are not adopting a
sufficiently urgent approach to their recalls. Delays in securing and
repairing/replacing all defective products add to the chances that further
incidents and injuries may result.

Product bans

Section 31 of the Fair Trading Act 1986 also authorises the
Minister of Consumer Affairs to ban any goods or classes of goods that will or
may cause injury to any person. Such a ban remains in force for up to 18 months,
and may be continued indefinitely after that. This provision has been used
sparingly over the last 11 years. It is notable, however, that the banning power
may be used by the Minister where it appears to the Minister that the product in
question will or may cause injury to any person. This is a subjective test as
compared to the objective test required for mandatory recalls.


The Infant Products Safety Forum was
convened by the Minister of Consumer Affairs. The purpose was to see that the
most effective framework is in place to ensure the safety of infant products,
and their safe use, in New Zealand. It also coincided with changes in the way
the Ministry operates its consumer safety function, and changes in the way
Standards NZ is funded.

The objectives of the Forum were to:

  • enable interested parties to share their expertise and ideas about how best
    to ensure the safety of infant products, and to assist the Ministry in
    developing its safety strategies
  • develop a common understanding among interested parties of the issues
    relevant to the development, maintenance and enforcement of mandatory and
    voluntary standards
  • ensure that all those who might have a role in ensuring safety understand
    and fulfil that role
  • generate public discussion and debate about safety at a more informed level
    if future tragedies occur.

Presentations were made on the following:

Topic Presenter Organisation
The Goal - Safe Products, Safe Use for
New Zealand Consumers
Keith Manch Ministry of Consumer Affairs
Self-Regulation - an industry perspective Bob Ainsworth NZ Juice Association
Infants Products and Injuries - New Zealand Statistics Dr David Chalmers Otago University
Injuries Associated with Nursery Furniture - Australian Survey Findings Dr Joan Ozanne-Smith Monash University
Standards for Nursery Products. Why Are They Necessary? Dr Kaye McAulay Standards New Zealand
Mandatory Product Safety Standards - An Enforcement Perspective Rachel Leamy Commerce Commission
The Role of the Infant Products Association and Its Members in Ensuring Infant Products Safety Dennis Chan Infant Products Association
Children's and Nursery Products - A Manufacturer's View John Highsted Britax Child-Care Products Ltd
Infant Products and Healthcare Shelley Hanifan Starship Hospital / Safekids
Infant Products Safety - A Maori
Druis Barrett Maori Womens Welfare League
Infant Products Safety - A Pacific
Islands Perspective
Tafa Poutoa Pacifica
Infant Products Safety - Working with
Sue Campbell Plunket

Attached as an appendix to this discussion paper is a summary of each paper
prepared by each of the speakers. There is also a separate document (Part II of
this discussion paper) available that contains full copies of presentations.

During discussions following the presentations, questions were asked about:

  • the current regulatory framework
  • the use of the 'S' Mark
  • the use of non-New Zealand standards
  • the availability of statistics by ethnicity
  • data about non-hospital admissions
  • compliance costs
  • broader use of products
  • recalls
  • improved ways of reaching Maori and Pacific Islands mothers.

A general discussion took place about the perceived need to:

  • educate parents and child-minders about the safe use of infant products (as
    well as ensuring the products themselves were safe)
  • take more account of the requirements of a multi-racial community
  • sell products, whether new or second-hand, with information about their use
  • provide point of sale safe-use information
  • anticipate the unexpected, as often occurs with children.

Workshops were convened on a number of key issues seen as relevant to
achieving safety. These workshops covered:

  • information for traders
  • information for parents
  • product safety standards.

The following section of this discussion paper reports the points raised by
participants and draws on them to identify suggested appropriate programmes for
action. Based on the workshop topics set out above, this occurs under the

  • Issues for Traders
  • Issues for Consumers
  • Product Safety Standards

Issues for traders


  • Safety attitudes need to start at the beginning - with manufacturers.
  • Trader education was perceived as essential, especially for traders of
    second-hand goods, chain stores (and particularly 'point of-sale' staff), creche
    operators, motel owners or others who might supply infant products as part of
    another service.
  • Community-based education is an effective way of getting to local traders
    (as well as parents).

    Information about safe construction and use of infant products is often
    missing from second-hand goods. Ways need to be found to ensure that all
    essential safety information accompanies such goods.

  • Some traders do not have the time, staff or expertise for instructive
  • There are ongoing safety problems with children being carried in supermarket
  • There appears to be a confusing number of safety identification marks.
  • Traders need to have a greater awareness of the needs of low income, Maori
    and Pacific Islanders, and consumers who may be placed at an increased risk
    because of their limited resources, poor understanding of English, and their
    greater shared use of products.
  • The existence of some (more) mandatory standards would help set minimum
    safety levels.


Traders form the vital links in the safety 'chain'. They
manufacture, import, distribute or retail the products purchased for use by
infants. At the retail end, they act as the point of contact for both the
consumers and with the manufacturers and suppliers. They are the 'eyes and ears'
of the manufacturers and become the principal sounding board for consumers who
may be dissatisfied with the quality and safety of the products purchased.

Traders need:

  • to have information about their responsibilities under the Fair Trading and
    Consumer Guarantees Acts, and existing and new measures established to improve
    products and their safety (both standards and ethical practices)
  • to remain up-to-date with safety features, product problems and recalls
  • to maintain an effective recording system in order to ensure that all staff
    are well informed and product history is known and can be communicated to
    manufacturers and subsequent inquirers.

Traders also need:

  • to be continually reminded that their customers are individuals with
    different needs and from varied backgrounds and experiences
  • to be able to communicate product safety information according to the
    consumers' needs.

These issues are inherent parts of good customer service and meeting legal

Suggestions for Action

  • Formalise, and strengthen, the existing Infant Products Association to
    develop and monitor standards and guidelines for the supply of safe infant
    products to New Zealand consumers.
  • Develop a code of practice for infant products traders which will put
    systems in place to ensure (among other things) appropriate information is
    supplied to consumers purchasing infant products.
  • Develop and implement, with the agreement of relevant agencies, a single,
    easily identifiable and understandable mark for infant products to indicate
  • Undertake a public education safety campaign with traders, targeting at-risk

These suggestions for action are
reflected in the "agenda for action". Is there anything that should be added?

Issues for parents


  • There is little point-of-sale information for consumers at present and what
    there is can be misleading. The second-hand market has been completely missed in
    the provision of information.
  • The safe use of infant products is also associated with adequate parenting
    skills, and changing attitudes to safety.
  • Infant products safety cannot be guaranteed for the life of the product.
    Consumers need to know how to recognise a potentially unsafe product before it
    fails and injures the user.
  • Instruction booklets are of limited durability and can be easily lost. Key
    instructions should be attached to the product.
  • Instructions for a product's use must reflect local, common usage - some
    existing instructions may not be realistic.
  • Traders and consumers need to be taught to 'think safe'.
  • Important safety information should be conveyed pictorially because of
    cultural and language barriers to understanding.
  • More information is needed to identify the most urgent infant products
    safety issues.
  • Different remedies may be appropriate for different groups of traders and
  • Child safety needs a big media initiative (like the drink / drive campaign).


Information as currently supplied with new equipment is
not only sometimes seen as inadequate for the first user, but is often not
available for subsequent users. Manufacturers' information often contains advice
on both assembly and use. This information can frequently be missing when
products are sold second-hand. Ensuring key messages stay with the product, by
such means as sewn-in labels etc, is an area for early attention.

As well as the safety of both components and construction, consideration must
be given to correct and safe use by parents and caregivers. Education and
publicity in safe practices and use, and heightened awareness of safe practices,
may well change behaviours. Finally, the collection of accurate, comprehensive
data on accidents and 'near misses' would assist traders and policymakers in
designing products, in identifying priorities for Government intervention and in
promoting safe practices.

Suggestions for Action

  • Develop a partnership across traders (and the Infant Products Association),
    parents and child safety interest groups to achieve infant products safety.
  • Secure traders' agreement to provide point-of-sale information, both for new
    and second-hand markets.
  • Undertake an education and publicity campaign aimed at parents and
    caregivers, seeking their assistance in reporting all product safety incidents
    to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and reminding them of their
    responsibilities towards supervision and safe use of infant products.
  • Investigate the use of pictorial information to overcome English language
    difficulties for some groups.
  • Undertake a small-scale study of General Practitioners to collect
    information on non-hospitalising injuries, consider the likely causes, and
    identify effective solutions.
  • Co-ordinate the information roles of all the various bodies involved in
    child safety education to maximise efficient use of resources.

These suggestions for action are
reflected in the "agenda for action". Is there anything that should be added?

Product safety standards


  • There is a number of consumer safety standards which are about to be revoked
    because of a lack of funding. How / whether to continue supporting them, with
    funding from alternative source(s) needs urgent attention.
  • The role of international standards in determining New Zealand infant
    products safety should be examined to see whether they could offer a suitable /
    less costly substitute to New Zealand developed standards (which are, in any
    case, based heavily on international standards).
  • There seems to be a confusing proliferation of standards marks and labels.
  • The benefits of horizontal standards for infant products may outweigh the
    duplication of effort involved in creating safety standards for each product.
  • Standards development and amendment seems to take too long, and is
    prioritised regardless of the relevant injury data.
  • Standards development must have regard for both safe usage and common usage.
  • User education must be an integral part of standards development. For
    example, requiring safety harnesses for prams and pushchairs must recognise a
    need to educate consumers into using them.
  • Standards may lose their effectiveness as products age and change ownership.
  • Effective voluntary standards require a strong, committed industry.
  • A product that meets a standard (either mandatory or voluntary) is still not
    necessarily a safe product. This is because the coverage of a standard may not
    encompass all product uses and eventualities.


New Zealand standards are based on international
standards. When considering their application in this country, they have been
either adopted unchanged or, by a process of consultation, changed to make them
appropriate to New Zealand conditions.

There is current discussion over how (or whether) Standards New Zealand's
(SNZ) ongoing support for a number of consumer safety standards can be funded
from other sources, as SNZ is no longer able to fund their development from
within its own resources. The Ministry is looking at ways alternative sources of
funding can be obtained, especially through the infant products industry as a
current beneficiary of the existing standards. In the event that a number of
current standards are revoked or allowed to lapse, the options for safety
agencies such as the Ministry include drawing on appropriate international
standards in recommending mandatory standards for Ministerial approval, or in
determining whether infant products are unsafe.

Product safety (mandatory) standards are relatively costly to make and to
enforce. These costs are then met, as a cross-subsidy, by the taxpayer rather
than by the purchaser of the product. Mandatory standards are only recommended
by the Minister, for approval by the Governor-General in Council, after
consultation with all those who are substantially affected by the proposal. This
process can take many months.

There are often cheaper and more effective options to mandatory standards
available - for example by industry agreeing to comply with a standard, or
through a consumer education campaign. For these reasons the Ministry has looked
upon mandatory standards as a last resort - to be used only if other action
would be ineffective or inappropriate and then only if it would actually solve a
safety problem. A more detailed explanation of the Ministry's policy on
mandatory standards is contained in the Ministry's Policy Paper No 2, Mandatory
and Voluntary Product Standards.

Suggestions for Action

  • Identify critical consumer safety standards and secure funding for their continued development and maintenance from sources outside of SNZ.
  • Strengthen the existing industry grouping (the Infant Products Association) and seek its agreement to pursue industry commitment to enforceable safety standards.
  • Address current and emerging standards in the context of second-hand products and the life expectancy of products.

These suggestions for action are reflected in the "agenda for action". Is there anything that should be added?



The main powers of the New Zealand government in the area of consumer safety
are set out in the Fair Trading Act 1986. The consumer safety provisions of the
Act underwent significant alteration in 1997, resulting in the Fair Trading
Amendment Act 2. The main concern of
the amendment was to allow for more than one standard to be declared mandatory
for a product or service.

There are three ways in which the government may deal with products causing
concern in the consumer safety area.

1. The Governor General may, on recommendation from the Minister of Consumer
Affairs, make regulations prescribing mandatory product safety standards. The
Governor General may also make regulations declaring an official standard
(overseas or domestic in origin) or part of an official standard as a product
safety standard. Once a mandatory standard is in place it is an offence to
supply goods which do not comply with the relevant standard. There are three
mandatory standards in place currently. These standards relate to the sale,
manufacture and importing of toys, children's nightclothes, and bicycles.

  • The safety standard for toys requires that those intended for use by
    children under three years of age should not be of a size that creates a hazard
    if swallowed or inhaled, or have small parts which can break off and create a
    hazard. (Requirement to comply with the New Zealand Standard NZS 5822:1992.)
  • The standard for children's nightclothes (6 months to 14 years of age)
    requires that nightclothes should be made of a fabric which has a low fire
    danger or made in a form-fitting style to reduce fire danger. (Requirement to
    comply with the New Zealand Standard NZS 8705:1989.)
  • The safety standard for bicycles requires that the assembly and components
    of bicycles meet certain minimum specifications. It applies to fully and
    partially assembled pedal bicycles (as well as those in a disassembled state),
    with a wheel base of 640mm or more, designed and intended for normal road use.
    (Requirement to comply with the Australian Standard AS 1927-1989.)

Under section 29 of the Fair Trading Act 1986 it is a criminal offence to
supply goods that do not meet a mandatory product safety standard. This is
punishable by a $100,000 fine for a company and a $30,000 fine for individuals.

2. The Minister may declare products to be unsafe goods. Where it appears to
the Minister that a good or class of goods will or may cause injury, the
Minister may, by notice in the Gazette declare the goods unsafe. The effect of
this notice is to ban the product by making it an offence to supply the good
which has been declared unsafe. This notice will remain in force for 18 months.
After this time the ban may be made permanent.

3. The Minister may order a compulsory product recall. Where a supplier does
not comply with a product safety standard or the goods in question are of a kind
which will or may cause injury the Minister may require the supplier to recall
the goods and disclose to the public information relating to the characteristics
of the goods or the circumstances where the use of the goods, is unsafe. There
have been no mandatory recalls ordered in the last five years. However several
voluntary recalls have been undertaken by suppliers in co-operation with the
Ministry. Some infant products voluntarily recalled by suppliers in the last
five years, include strollers, cots, portable cots and rattles.

Under section 33 of the Act, the importation of goods which contravene the
consumer safety provisions is prohibited.

There are also several voluntary associations and standards active in the
infant products area. A recent example of voluntary infant product safety
standards includes the joint Australian and New Zealand standard for cots
(AS/NZS 2172) which specifies material, constructional and design requirements
for cots. In addition, AS/NZS 2088 contains requirements for the construction
and performance of prams and strollers.3

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has worked with traders towards industry
standards for prams, strollers, and cots. In addition, the Infant Products
Association (IPA) was established among the major manufacturers and importers of
infant products in May 1996. The IPA was established to promote the sale and
distribution of safe infant products and to educate and foster the exchange of
ideas within the infant products industry. As part of these aims the IPA has
adopted a voluntary industry standard for baby walkers. However, the Association
has not, to date, been very active. Action is currently underway to revitalise


Under the Trade Practices Revision Act 1986 (an amendment to the principal
Trade Practices Act 1974), there are several actions the Federal Government may
take to protect the consumer. Under section 65B of the Act the Minister may
publish a public warning notice containing a description of a particular type of
product under investigation and warning of possible risks involved in the use of
those goods. The Minister's main powers are described in section 65C which
states he or she may :

  • Make regulations prescribing mandatory consumer product safety standards
    where that standard is reasonably necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of
    injury to any person.
  • Declare goods to be unsafe by notice in the Gazette, where those goods will
    or may cause injury.
  • Impose a permanent ban on goods where 18 months have passed after declaring
    the goods unsafe and there is no mandatory consumer product standard in respect
    of the product.

Under section 65C (1) it is a criminal offence to supply goods intended to be
used by a consumer if those goods do not comply with the relevant prescribed
consumer product safety standards, or if the goods have been declared unsafe, or
there is a permanent ban on those goods. In addition, under section 65F the
Minister may initiate a Compulsory Product Recall of a product which will or may
cause injury in itself or which is in contravention of section 65C. Finally,
under section 65F (8) where a supplier undertakes a voluntary product recall or
is required to recall goods by the Minister, the supplier must give notice to
the Minister and those to whom they have sold the product stating the goods
subject to recall and the nature of the defect or non-compliance with consumer
safety standards. Failure to give the required notice is an offence punishable
on conviction attracting a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Responsibility for consumer safety in Australia is divided among several
different bodies:

  • the Consumer Affairs Division of the Department of Industry Science and
    Tourism (CAD)
  • the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  • the Consumer Products Advisory Committee (CPAC).

States and
territories also have their own bodies which are involved in the consumer safety

The CAD carries the main responsibility for consumer safety. Its functions
include developing safety and information standards, advising the Minister on
the need to ban hazardous products and administering product recalls. The ACCC
enforces compliance with the consumer protection provisions of the Trade
Practices Act. In addition the CPAC, of which New Zealand is a member, advises
the Ministers on the need for voluntary or mandatory product safety standards
and the need to ban unsafe goods.4

Australia has been very active in several infant safety areas. The Australian
federal government has declared 2 mandatory standards for infant products (out
of a total of 18 consumer products mandatory standards). These are for
children's nightclothes (AS 1249 - 1983 as amended) and children's toys (AS 1647
Part 2 - 1981). In addition, states and territories have 20 mandatory standards
which are enforceable only within the borders of that state (out of a total of
132 consumer products mandatory standards).

The Minister has required three cot-related recalls since 1987. These recalls
involved two standard cots and one portable cot. Three strollers have been
recalled since 1987. Also, in New South Wales, eleven portable cots have been
banned and in 1996 five cots were permanently banned, which has the effect of
ensuring both new and second-hand cots of the specified type are effectively
removed from the market.5

There are also several voluntary standards including AS 3747, which requires
a three point crotch strap and lap restraint to be fitted to all baby strollers,
and AS 2195 for folding portable cots for use in domestic situations. In
addition, recently the Infant and Nursery Products Association of Australia was
formed among key infant product industry manufacturers. The Association's main
aim is to establish an industry code of practice and to work with and advise the
government on infant safety issues.

Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement

The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement is an accord between the
Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments of Australia and the Government of
New Zealand. The Agreement is seen as a means of overcoming some of the
regulatory obstacles to trade between the two countries in respect of the sale
of goods and the registration of occupations.

Under this agreement, goods that can legally be sold in one country will be
able to be legally sold in the other. Goods need only comply with the standards
or regulations in the jurisdiction in which they are produced or through which
they are imported. The likely commencement date is early 1998.

However, a special exemption currently exists in respect of products covered
by safety standards and bans. This is because of the differing approaches taken
by each country to the use of mandatory product standards. During the 12 month
period of the special exemption, both parties have undertaken to discuss ways of
resolving the difference in approach. A special exemption may be renewed for up
to five years while solutions are negotiated, before either lapsing or becoming


There are several bodies involved in the consumer safety area within the
Canadian government. The Office of Consumer Affairs is responsible for all
federally regulated consumer issues not specifically assigned to another
department. These regulations are enacted by the Governor in Council under the
Hazardous Products Act. In addition, the Governor may insert any consumer good
he or she is satisfied is, or is likely to be, a danger to the health and safety
of the public into the Schedule of the Act.

Once the product has been inserted into the Hazardous Products Schedule, by
definition it becomes a hazardous product. If the product is inserted into Part
One of the schedule it is prohibited from being advertised, sold or imported
into Canada now and in the future. Conversely, if the product is inserted into
Part Two of the schedule it is only able to be sold if it conforms to prescribed
standards. In the area of infant products, several types of rattles cribs and
playpens have been inserted into Part Two of the Schedule and are therefore
required to conform to certain specified standards. Continuing to sell a product
in Part One of the Schedule, or failing to comply with the prescribed standards
relating to a product in Part Two of the Schedule, attracts criminal sanctions
in the form of a $1,000 fine, imprisonment for no more than six months, or a
combination of both penalties.

In the area of infant products there have been several significant
developments where the Hazardous Products Schedule has been put to use. Since
1985, the sale of cots that do not comply with safety standards in the Hazardous
Products Act has been prohibited. It is important to note that the standards
apply both to new and resold products and therefore it is illegal to sell even a
second-hand cot which does not comply with the required safety standards. New
baby walkers have effectively been banned from being sold as the safety standard
for walkers requires the base to be at least 900mm and manufacturers of these
products were unwilling to redesign the walker for the relatively small number
of sales in Canada6.

In addition, the Product Safety Program (PSP) is responsible for establishing
and enforcing regulations specified in the Hazardous Products Schedule of the
Act. This body has three distinct functions. Firstly, the PSP has several
regulatory functions, including developing regulations and guidelines for
products, monitoring compliance with standards, and initiating corrective
measures where a company does not comply with the Act. The PSP is also
responsible for several voluntary programmes, which have the function of
developing voluntary standards, testing products and providing advice and
consultation on standards in general. Finally the PSP has a role in providing
information to the public, in the form of public warnings, promotions, exhibits,
reports and guidelines. An important initiative in the area of infant products
established by the PSP is the Product Safety KidsCare office, which recently
launched a campaign on lighters and matches and their availability to


The powers of the German government to protect the consumer are set out under
the Law of the Safety of Equipment. This law was altered in 1986 to extend to
matters of consumer protection8.
Under section 3.1 of the Act suppliers are under a general safety duty to supply
goods only if they are in accordance with the generally recognised "state of
art" and regulations on industrial safety and prevention of accidents.
Manufacturers and importers have the opportunity to obtain confirmation they are
complying the general safety duty by submitting the product to an authorised
testing centre to undergo a design test. If the product passed the required
tests, that company is then entitled to use the approved safety symbol GS to
show that their goods have been tested and comply with the general safety

The Law on the Safety of Equipment is enforced by decentralised Trade
Supervisory Offices. The main emphasis of these offices is at exhibitions and
shows. At these initial marketing stages the offices aim to protect the consumer
by preventative rather than reactive hazard detection. These offices also
administer targeted market controls where materials have proved themselves
particularly accident inductive or dangerous. In using these targeted market
controls the offices have tended to concentrate on items such as infant
products, which are designed for use.

In aggravated circumstances, the Trade Supervisory Offices may initiate
prohibition orders against the manufacturer. Before a prohibition order is
imposed, the Law requires that the defect must constitute a danger to life or
the health of the user, given proper use of the product. The stringent
requirements of the Law have meant that prohibition orders have been used very
infrequently. More commonly the offices will require the trader to issue
instructions on the defect which has been found in the product, change the
design of the product or the use instructions, or remove the defect within a
specified time.

German authorities have initiated several measures in the area of infant
products. These actions include the establishment of a European Standard for
children's cots, which includes safety requirements and testing procedures.
However, like the United States' standards, the use of broken cots in the home
is outside such controls.10


The United Kingdom system of consumer protection closely resembles that of
other European Community countries. Firstly, under section 12 of the Consumer
Protection Act 1987, a person is guilty of an offence if they supply consumer
goods which are prohibited by any safety regulations made under this Act. These
regulations are specific and refer to a particular type of goods. Many of these
regulations were made as a result of European Community Directives and require
that a supplier comply with certain safety standards. Some safety standards
referred to in these regulations are known as harmonised standards and apply
throughout the European Union. At present, there are several regulations for
infant products including safety requirements for the construction of cots
(BS/EN 716-1 1996), for wheeled child conveyances (BS 7409 1996)11and BS 5665/ EN 71 for toys.

In addition, a supplier must also comply with the General Product Safety
Regulations (1994). These regulations superseded the general safety requirement
imposed in section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act, which aimed to impose a
general duty on suppliers to supply safe goods. These general product safety
regulations (GPSR) cover situations where an aspect of safety is not covered by
the relevant Directive, or a product complies with existing specific safety
regulations but is still found to be unsafe. The GPSRs also apply to most
second-hand goods. It is an offence under these regulations to supply unsafe
products. A person (manufacturer, supplier, distributor, or individual) will
fail to comply with the general safety regulations if the product is not
reasonably safe having regard to the circumstances. These circumstances include:

  • the manner in which the goods are marketed
  • whether the good complies with any standards of safety which apply to the
    goods in question
  • whether any instructions or warnings are given
  • effect on other product it is used with

The enforcement of compliance with safety regulations is undertaken at a
local level by Trading Standards Authorities in each area rather than at a
national level. Under section 14 (1), if an enforcement authority reasonably
suspects a trader is supplying goods in contravention of a safety provision, the
authority can serve a suspension notice to prevent the trader from disposing of
stock for six months. The local authority can also apply to the court for
forfeiture of unsafe goods.

In addition to the powers of local enforcement authorities, the Secretary of
State may prohibit goods which are unsafe or do not satisfy requirements of
regulations. This prohibition notice consists of a ban on an identified trader
in respect of a specified product and carries a maximum fine of £2,000, summary
conviction and up to six months imprisonment if the trader continues to supply
the unsafe goods. Also, under section 13 (1)(b) the authority has the power to
require manufacturers and distributors of goods, which were found to be
dangerous after they have been sold, to publish notices warning the public of
the danger. In addition, the Secretary of State may make Emergency Orders to ban
certain items. However, in contrast to many other systems, no body has the power
to order manufacturers to recall dangerous products.

In addition to work done by the local enforcement authorities and the
Secretary of State, there are also several voluntary codes of practice in place
which deal with infant safety. For example, the British Standards Institution
has developed a voluntary safety standard for baby walkers, which recommends
safety warnings be placed on both the product instruction sheet and the
packaging of the walkers.12


2 no. 43, 28 July 1997

3 Watson, W. Ozanne-Smith, J. Begg, S. Imberger, A. Stathakis, V. Ashby, K.
(1997) "Injuries Associated with Nursery Furniture and Bunk Beds" Monash
University Accident Research Centre Report

4 Harland, D. in Micklitz, H-W.(1990) Post Market Control of Consumer
, Bade-Baden, Germany.

5 Above n2.

6 Above n2.

7 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) (1995)
Consumer Policy in OECD countries.

8 18 February 1986, BGBl.I,265.

9 Falke, J. in Micklitz, H-W. (1990) Post Market Control of Consumer Goods, Bade-Baden, Germany.

10 Above n2.

11 Above n2.

12 Above n2.



Under the Consumer Product Safety Act13, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) has wide powers to deal with consumer safety issues. The CPSC
may develop mandatory product safety standards for any consumer product. These
standards consist of requirements as to performance, composition, contents,
design, construction, finish, or packaging of a consumer product. The standard
may also require that the product be marked with, or accompanied by clear and
adequate warnings or instructions.

In the area of infant product safety, mandatory standards for both full-size
and non-full size cots have been in place since 1973. These standards include
requirements for the side height of cots, the slat fit and the fit of the
mattress to the cot. In 1982 these standards were amended to include
requirements that prohibited hazardous cut-outs in cot end panels. In addition,
baby walkers have been subject to a mandatory standard since 1971. Neither of
these standards addresses products currently in use or being retailed
second-hand<14. There are also
mandatory standards for children's night-clothes which have been in force for
several years. However, there are no mandatory standards for prams, strollers,
high chairs, and change tables. Also, no standards, voluntary or mandatory,
exist for bunk beds.

The CPSC may also ban any product currently or planned to be distributed.
However, this power may only be used where there is no feasible consumer product
safety standard that would adequately protect the public. The product must also
present an unreasonable risk of injury. In the period between January 1995 and
July 1997, the CPSC has recalled 16 cots and cot-related products. There have
also been at least 5 baby walker related recalls in that period15.

Under section 19 of the Consumer Product Safety Act it is an offence to
manufacture, sell, import, or distribute any product not in conformity with the
applicable mandatory consumer product safety standards. It is also an offence to
manufacture, sell, import, or distribute any product which has been declared a
banned hazardous product. Recently, the CPSC initiated proceedings against Big
Save International Corporation of Los Angeles for importing more than 70,000
banned or mislabelled baby walkers, pacifiers, rattles toys and other products 16. If found guilty this company faces
a fine not more than $50,000 or (in the case of an individual) being imprisoned
for not more than one year. The company may also be sued in the Civil Courts
which carries a fine not exceeding $2,000 for each violation.

Outside their powers under the Act, CPSC has been involved in the development
of voluntary standards (ASTM17) for
full size baby cribs. There is also a voluntary Standard Consumer Safety
Performance Specification for infant walkers which addresses seating systems,
folding mechanisms and problems of tip-overs. This standard requires that
instructional literature must accompany the walker and that one or more warning
labels must be attached18. In
addition, the CPSC has established the "Kids Matter" programme which is a public
service designed to give parents the information they need to help keep their
children safe and prevent accidental injuries19. Also, on April 17 1997, the CPSC
launched a "Recall Round-Up" campaign to rid homes of hazardous products which
urges consumers to rid their homes of common items that have been deemed
dangerous to children. The campaign included broadcasting examples of banned
products which may still be present in consumers' homes despite recall notices
and public warnings20.

In addition to the work the CPSC does in the area of infant safety, the
Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) also has a significant role.
The Association, in conjunction with industry members, consumer groups and CPSC,
has developed standards and tests for a wide range of in13fant products. These standards,
which are written by the ASTM, cover products such as high chairs, play yards,
walkers, carriages and strollers and full size cribs. In order for a
manufacturer to become JPMA certified the product must be tested by an
independent testing facility for compliance with the relevant ASTM standards.
Once certified, that manufacturer is entitled to label the product with a JPMA
Certified mark.


The OECD Committee on Consumer Policy is at present the sole
intergovernmental consumer policy forum. This committee has been a driving force
behind the development of global consumer policy in OECD countries by
facilitating exchange in information and experience on consumer issues in
individual Member countries and also in regions such as the Economic Union.

As part of the committee's work on consumer safety a Working Party on the
Safety of Consumer Products was established in 1972 to deal with safety
questions concerning all consumer products with the exception of food and drugs.
This working party, now called the Working Party on Consumer Safety, has several
important aims:

  • To promote the safety of consumer products and services in all Member
  • To promote the exchange of information between Member countries on product
  • To encourage co-ordinated approaches of Member countries to product safety
    and to promote international co-operation in that area
  • To promote the development of systematic methods for assessment and
    monitoring of the safety of consumer products.

The Working Party has developed into a driving force for the promotion of
international co-operation in the product safety field and its results have in
many cases had a major impact on work at a national level. The Working Party's
main function is to deal with consumer safety policy issues of a general
character. Examples of current projects are:

  • Safety Labeling in a Global Marketplace
  • Improving OECD Notification Procedure
  • Standardisation for Trans-border Trade.

The Working Party also provides a platform for regular and continuous
exchange of information on concrete problems arising in Member countries.

In order to promote the exchange of information between countries the Working
Party, in conjunction with the New Zealand Ministry of Consumer Affairs, has
established an informal notification system called Prodsafe. This procedure
involves notification of important national product safety measures undertaken
nationally by Member countries such as :

  • New safety regulation and similar measures concerning consumer safety
  • Immediate hazard reaction measures such as product bans and recalls of
    products already on the market.
  • Research projects in the product safety field which have been initiated by,
    or come to the knowledge of Member countries product safety authorities.

The procedure, which has been in place since 1973, has generated around 900
notifications with an average of 70-80 notifications a year. In order to
facilitate and speed up the exchange of this information, the notification
system has now been established on the internet and is hosted by the New Zealand
Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

This notification procedure has been a crucial element in facilitating
international co-operation among Member countries in product safety. The value
of this procedure is not only as an early warning system but also as a basis for
discussions and exchange of information between Member country delegates during
and after Working Party meetings. Frequently the notifications have lead to
similar action being taken in other Member countries. The importance of the
notification procedure is demonstrated in the fact that three Council
Recommendations in the product safety field refer to the procedure as an
important platform for international co-operation.


This arrangement was established in October 1996 to provide a mechanism for
the exchange of information on toy safety between APEC member countries, of
which New Zealand is a member. The aim of the arrangement was to facilitate the
trade of toy products in the region and to reduce the risk to the health and
safety of children in the APEC region arising from toys. As part of the
arrangement member countries agree to exchange all relevant information on any
risks to health and safety of children which have arisen from hazards associated
with toys.

Where member countries identify a specific safety issue relating to a toy
originating in another participating country, they consult with that country to
reach a satisfactory solution.


Internationally there is an increasing tendency towards less government
regulation in commerce, and more negotiation, co-operation and self-regulation.
This follows the trend towards freer trade and the breaking down of regulatory
trade barriers. Accordingly, particular consideration needs to be given to the
effect that any new regulation might have on trade - regulations that act as
trade barriers have to be avoided. There may also be unacceptable costs
associated with excessive regulation. Businesses incur these as compliance costs
which are in turn passed on to the consumer.

Nevertheless, commitment to free trade and reduced compliance costs has to be
balanced by the need to ensure consumer safety is not compromised. How to strike
the right balance, one that gains general support, is a critical issue for all
interested parties.


13 October 27 1972, Laws of 92nd Congress, second Session.

14 Above n2.

15 Above n2.

16 www kidsource com/cpsc/big save.html

17 originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials

18 Above n2.

19 www bsalaw com/kidsmatter/news html

20 Http://www pirg org/cal r/products/recall97 htm


Issues relevant to whether standards should be mandatory or voluntary:

  • barriers to trade
  • unnecessary compliance costs to businesses which may ultimately flow on to
    the consumer and costs of making and enforcing mandatory standards which will
    have to be borne by the taxpayer
  • where there are a large number of suppliers, the members of an industry
    cannot agree on a standards or the problem is wider than the scope of a specific
    industry group a mandatory standard may be more appropriate
  • is industry solely responsible for safety, or should the government bear
    some of the burden?

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs generally expects voluntary action to be
taken and will only make a recommendation for mandatory standards where all the
following criteria are met:

  • there is a proven problem with the safety of a product
  • an education or publicity campaign would be ineffective or inappropriate
  • voluntary action by suppliers of the product is not possible or would be
  • an unsafe goods notice or a compulsory product recall would not be
    sufficient to eliminate a safety problem or would be inappropriate
  • cost/benefit analysis demonstrates that the benefit in making a mandatory
    standard outweighs the cost.


(NOTE: A copy of the full papers presented is available from the
Ministry of Consumer Affairs, PO Box 1473, Wellington).

Keith Manch, Ministry of Consumer Affairs - Overview and Key Issues

goal for the Ministry was 'Safe Products, Safe Use for New Zealand Consumers'.
Achieving this depended on an integrated strategy. It involved:

  • Partnership - an acknowledgment that all have a part to play in improving
    the safety of infant products
  • Government Involvement - a role as catalyst and facilitator with proactive
    monitoring of the market, complaints investigations, developing certain
    standards, networking nationally and internationally, educating and informing
    traders and consumers, developing policy, and encouraging self-regulation
  • Standards - the use of mandatory standards where they are seen as the best
    approach to achieving safety
    • Education - the distribution of material and the use of programmes and
      campaigns on specific areas of consumer safety
    • Information - the collection of data about injuries, product information and
      compliance strategies
    • Self-regulation - the establishment of codes of practice, monitoring and
      compliance frameworks administered by the relevant industries.

Bob Ainsworth, New Zealand Juice Association

Formed in 1994.
Fruit Juice and Fruit Drink Beverage companies.
Major concern was
adulteration of product (added sugar, concentrate, pulpwash).
factors, extraction and processing techniques, and legislation affect quality
and authenticity of product.

Voluntary Code of Practice working with Food Regulations:

  • has infrastructure
  • has policing and sanctions
  • has public message
  • is flexible and cost efficient
  • promotes fair practice.

Principles of fair practice:

  • creativity stops where adulteration begins
  • manipulations harm is the industry and consumer.

Self Regulation through Industry Compliance Committee (ICC).

Breaches of Code:

  • first breach - warning and further testing
  • subsequent breach/es - publish test results, advise government enforcement agencies, institute proceedings for damages.

Benefits of Self-Regulation:

  • good and healthy image for the industry
  • minimises government involvement
  • ensures free and fair competition
  • gains internationally recognised standards
  • increases sales volume.

Dr David Chalmers - Injury Prevention Unit, University of Otago

infant product related deaths in NZ in the period 1985-1994.

  • 94% of deaths comprised of children aged between 0 and 2.
  • Stationary cots and portable cots were responsible for 68% and bunk beds
    were responsible for 20% of infant product related deaths.
  • 71% of infant product related deaths were as a result of suffocation and
    respiratory obstruction. 11% resulted from the infant being caught in or between
    an object.

2000 infant product related hospitalisations 1985-1994.

    46% of infant product related hospitalisations involved infants
    between 0 and 2.
  • 31% of those hospitalisations resulted from use of bunk beds, 7% from cots or portable cots and 37% from beds.
  • 92% of infant product related hospitalisations were as a result of the infant suffering a fall. Of those falls 36% were from beds, 33% were from bunk beds.
  • 43% of hospitalisations involved infants suffering head injuries, 36% of injuries related to fractured limbs and 8% of injuries involved a fractured skull.

Professor Joan Ozanne-Smith - Monash University Accident Research Centre

Injury Data:

  • Most common nursery furniture products associated with infant injuries are prams, cots, high chairs, baby walkers, strollers, change tables and bouncinettes
  • Injuries associated with nursery furniture are most likely to occur in the first year of life
  • Over 3,500 nursery furniture injuries are suffered by infants aged under 1 year
  • Of 13 deaths between 1985-1994, over 75% of those occurred from use of cots
  • Falls are the major cause of non-fatal injury.

Major Hazards:

  • Cots - entrapment , modifications, protrusions
  • Bouncinettes - falls
  • Babywalkers - falls involving steps and stairs
  • High chairs - inadequate restraints to prevent falls
  • Prams and Stroller - falls, entrapment asphyxiation, deficient safety
    harnesses or lack of use, overloading strollers with shopping
  • Change tables - lack of restraining devices to prevent falls.

Key Recommendations:

  • Mandating of cot standard
  • Voluntary standards for baby walkers, high chairs and change tables
  • Increase compliance with voluntary standards via industry co-operation and public education
  • Mandating where voluntary standards are ineffective
  • Improved hospital data collection
  • Point-of-sale information about the correct use of products and the associated hazards for parents and caregivers
  • Community service television advertisements to support interventions.

Dr Kaye McAulay - Chief Executive Standards New Zealand

Standards NZ is
the trading arm of the Standards Council. Its functions include:

  • developing standards and standards related publications
  • assessing products and certifying products for conformance to a particular standard
  • providing information services on standards
  • NZ's representative in the ISO and various other international standards organisations

Standards are used as:

  • a means of achieving safety and reliability of products
  • technical means of complying with regulations
  • guidance on good practice.

Making use of standards in infant safety area:

  • provides manufacturer design requirements for preventing accidents
  • provides regulators with a practical method for defining minimum requirements
  • provides consumers with a benchmark for purchasing decisions
  • can be used with confidence as they have all been developed at the request of the community using public consultation processes and input from a wide range of interested groups.

Rachel Leamy - Commerce Commission

Role to bring about awareness,
acceptance of and compliance with the Commerce Act and the Fair Trading Act,
carried out via:

  • information provision, including guidelines on each of the product safety standards
  • complaint handling
  • enforcement
  • court action.

Enforcement of Product Safety Standards:

  • product safety issues identified via complaints from public or competitors, information from other government agencies such as MCA or Customs Dept, or from pro-active inspection programme which Commission operates
  • use of investigation criteria, for example size and spread of consumer loss, repeated breaches of Act by traders, or need to clarify the law or provide a deterrent
  • if there appears to be a prima facie breach of a mandatory product safety standard the Commission will investigate the matter
  • if an investigation establishes an apparent prima facie breach the Commission will take action in the form of a warning, obtain a settlement, negotiate a voluntary recall or take court action

Mandatory standards do not guarantee safe products because:

  • non-complying goods are still sold
  • not all potential hazards are covered by the standard
  • standards only apply up to when the goods are purchased, not to modifications of the product or when warnings are not followed.

Dennis Chan - Infant Products Association

Mission Statement:

  • aim to advance the interests of the juvenile products industry
  • encourage use of its products
  • collect and disseminate information
  • promote safety awareness and voluntary standards
  • project a positive image to the industry to the public.

John Highsted, Britax Child-Care Products Pty - a manufacturer's point of

Factors which enable the manufacturer to deliver safe products include:

  • knowledge of injury avoidance and familiarity with the product
  • design guidelines and minimum standard levels to support the designer and provide a means of evaluating a product, particularly as most children's products are imported
  • a quality system e.g. Certification
  • maintenance of quality to ensure all products meet the minimal level of safety

Britax has sought testing for all of its product to ensure compliance and
product safety.
Some Australian and NZ companies import or manufacture
without testing to determine the level of safety of their products.

Britax recommends a mandatory standard for all popular children's products,
similar to the Toy Standard:

  • requiring all products meet minimum safety standards. Low cost products not
    meeting standard would not be permitted, and any injuries would lead to further
    improvement of the standard
  • cover all manufacturers and importers
  • must be one standard appropriate to the identified risks not just taking on
    the CEN standard or acceptance of non-equivalent standards - which leads to

Shelley Hanifan, Safekids - Child Safety Service of Starship

The Spectrum of Prevention - A Framework for Planning Outlines a
continuum of strategies which create a potent recipe for prevention work in
childhood injury.


  • Information - What's going on, Who's doing what, and How to information,
    research into injury patterns and risk factors
  • Building Coalitions and Networks - sharing information and combining efforts
    to create more effective prevention interventions
  • Strengthen Individual Knowledge and Skills - provide practical assistance to
    caregivers in the form of counseling education or knowledge
  • Educate the Community - to raise awareness about child injury issues, change
    public attitudes or provide prevention information
  • Educate Existing (and Potential) Providers
  • Change Organisational Practices to an increased emphasis on child injury
  • Influence Public Policy and Legislation.

Approaches to the issue of infant products:

  • Gather information on the product in question, seeking information from overseas about their experience, opinion from those involved in implementation of safety controls, and soft data including opinions and preferences
  • Use networks to share information and raise awareness on the issue
  • develop strategies to improve the safety of the product
  • educate parents and families on an individual level
  • community education
  • educating people who sell the product to parents
  • raise awareness within the industry and encourage action to improve or ensure the safety of the product
  • approach government agencies to request appropriate intervention

Druis Barrett - Maori Women's Welfare League

Main objective to support
Maori women and their whanau. Infant product safety is a holistic issue for

Toys, cots, and highchairs are usually a luxury rather than a norm.

  • Maori usually purchase second hand equipment if any at all
  • a high proportion of Maori women are sole parent families and cannot afford safety products for their children.

Safety issues are not a priority with most whanau. This is mainly because of their living standards, the location of Maori mothers and distance costs.

We need to ask where Maori women are placed economically in view of safety standards.

Tafa Poutoa, Pacifica - A Pacific Islands Perspective

Tafa Poutoa
emphasised the need for instructions to have graphics to reach Pacific Islands
consumers as:

  • Pacific Islands consumers do not access information through printed form
  • practical demonstration is the most effective way of providing information to Pacific Islands consumers.

Pacific Islands consumers are unlikely to return a product to the retailer. From Pacific Islands perspective it is the responsibility of the retailer to demonstrate the safe use of a product.

Sue Campbell National Child Safety Co-ordinator for Plunket

Plunket is a
leading child health provider and is well placed to deliver child safety
information to the public. It has an active advocacy role in child safety

Plunket believes nursery products should come under mandatory standards as:

  • self regulating by manufacturers and importers is not working
  • there is no incentive for manufacturers and importers to certify to the voluntary product standard
  • the cost of standard certification is taking priority over child safety
  • this ensures optimum safety and public confidence in product safety