How consumers can have a say in product safety policy

Consumers who influence product safety

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He had tattoos on his neck and arms. The words LOVE and HATE were tattooed on his fingers, next to skull rings. His clothes were leather, adorned with silver studs. Heavy boots completed the outfit.

I was mindful that this man was not the sort of person I encountered in my day-to-day life, nor in my usual workday dealings, but I once sat next to such a man representing motorcycle riders on the motorbike helmet standard committee. For seven hours.

Popular mythology around bikies suggested this might have been someone to be wary of. But nothing could be further from the truth.

On a committee that had quite a challenging standard to write, this man was knowledgeable, professional, thoughtful and friendly. And he brought an understanding of riders’ needs in helmet safety.

People from all walks of life can have a say in setting product safety policy.

New e-book

Product Safety Solutions has published a free e-book How to Influence Consumer Product Safety Policy which outlines ways consumers and user groups can have a say.

how to influence product safety ebook

Ways to influence

Consumers and user groups bring an important and often unique perspective to standards setting.

Anyone who uses products can get involved in influencing product safety policy.

The e-book covers how individuals and groups (and businesses) can:

1. Participate in standards development with Standards Australia by commenting on ‘public comment drafts’ or becoming a committee member.

Committee volunteers are often drawn from retired people with background and experience in the relevant field.

2. Engage with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission by making a submission during consultations on proposed new and revised mandatory standards.

Australian Standards often form the basis of mandatory consumer product safety standards.

Anyone can subscribe at Product Safety Australia website to get alerts when standards are being proposed and reviewed.

As well as the Consumers Federation, some product user groups exist in the community, providing forums for people with common interests and needs.

3. Lobby through user groups and associations for product standards and other safety policies on behalf of their members.

Community-based product user groups allow people to collaborate on identifying problems and developing solutions. As a representative group, they can add extra weight to consultations and committee work.

A few examples

To give you an idea, the technical committees for these Australian Standards include representatives from user groups:

AS/NZS 1698 Protective helmets for vehicle users – Motorcycle Riders Association, Australia Post (as major users) and Confederation of Australia Motor Sports (CAMS)

AS/NZS 1900 Flotation aids for water familiarisation and swimming tuition – Austswim, Royal Life Saving Society and Choice

AS 2432 Babies’ Dummies – Australian Breastfeeding Association and Choice

AS/NZS 2693 Vehicle jacks – Department of Defence (as major users) and Australian Automobile Association

AS 4989 Trampolines – Safety aspects – Gymnastics Australia

I have been on numerous committees and seen the value brought by consumer representatives.

Members of the babies’ dummies and the trampolines committees did not look intimidating like the man from the helmet committee, but like him they provided insightful and helpful contributions.

Get the free e-book

For more details on how you can have a say, download your free copy of our e-book How to Influence Consumer Product Safety Policy

Business people may also wish to see the blog on they can influence product safety policy.

Opportunity to influence consumer product safety

See also the blog How business can influence consumer product safety policy