Beware of gaps in the consumer market

Rock climber reaching across a gap

There might be a good reason not to fill that gap!

The Maze, Safety Pin, Design icons

Some products don’t exist because they have safety issues. They might be constrained by safety standards or even be banned from sale.

Is your business idea at risk?

You’ve been thinking for a while about starting your own business. Selling goods online is something you could do. You’ve become aware of something you’d like to see on the market. And nobody is making it ….. but, beware the gap in the market.

Product safety regulations might be the reason


Do some homework

You just need to do some homework to find out what products are subject to standards and bans. Here’s some examples of products that are not on the market because they’re unsafe, for reasons that may not be apparent:

  • Long cotton nighties in children’s sizes 00-14. Why? (too flammable)
  • Babies’ cots with ornate corner posts. Why? (strangulation risk)
  • Toys and other playthings that have exposed magnets. Why? (severe ingestion hazard)
  • Sky lanterns. Why? (fire hazard)
  • Bunk beds without guard rails on all sides (even if they’re to go against a wall). Why? (strangulation risk with a child slipping between the wall and the upper bed)

These aren’t necessarily hazards you would think of. Sometimes, it’s only after injuries have occurred that the hazards are discovered. Once a hazard has been identified, suppliers and governments can then address the risks by changing the design. Or sometimes, if the risk is too high, just stopping the supply altogether.

Some crazy ideas

With some other sorts of products the hazards might seem a bit more obvious to you. But somebody thought they were a cute idea and went ahead and sold them. Things like:

  • Babies’ dummies and dummy chains with beads attached – an obvious choking hazard
  • Cigarette lighters that are designed to look like toys – attractive to young kids, so a fire hazard
  • Inflatable shoes for walking on water – known as ‘Jesus Boots’ – seemed like fun but once you fell your feet were buoyant but the rest of you wasn’t – so, a drowning hazard
  • ‘Diveman’ underwater breathing equipment. This was designed so air was drawn down from the surface by the diver’s leg motion; all very well until the diver’s foot got stuck on something – another drowning hazard

You won’t find these last two on the current bans list. They used to be there and now, thankfully, after the products’ brief appearance on the market in the 1980s, the bans are no longer needed.

Avoiding the gap

You can avoid these rookie mistakes. See our blog on product safety regulations in Australia.

So, if my product is not on the bans and standards list, it’s OK?

Well, it’s a start. But all suppliers, including importers and online sellers, need to make sure their products are safe before they go on sale.