Farewell and thanks to a valued colleague – Martin Rushton

The Maze, Safety Pin icons

3 minute read

We will shortly see the retirement of a veteran consumer product safety colleague. I’d like to pay tribute to Martin Rushton, who has been the mainstay of New Zealand’s product safety agency for around 15 years. (He was due to leave a few weeks ago, but has stayed on due to New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown!)

Martin’s product safety career began long before his move to New Zealand. From the tender age of 19, Martin worked as a trading standards officer in the UK, which incorporated product safety from the mid-1980s.

I have worked alongside Martin on several Australia/NZ forums for government policy, and on standards such as children’s nightwear flammability. He has often been New Zealand’s sole representative and active contributor in international forums, including the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation.

Martin has always had a genuine and conscientious approach to improving the safety of products and has been a valued member of the product safety community – in New Zealand, Australasia and internationally. He has acted as a sounding board and supporter of my work since I left the ACCC and began building this website. Plus, he’s one of the most generous and friendly people I know.

Martin Rushton product safety
Martin in Brussels, 2018

Martin’s own words

I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin for one of my podcasts, back in 2015. In it, Martin recounts some cases that illustrate valuable lessons for product suppliers – online sales, supply chain management, toxic toy beads and button batteries.

When I asked what he enjoys about product safety, Martin’s response reflected his commitment:

‘I guess for me there are a couple of things. One is the challenge.

What I like about product safety … is that you’re not ever dealing with 100% certainty, things are never black and white and so there are always the challenge of the new problem, the new risk, the new issue coming along and trying to figure out the best way of mitigating the risk and solution.

The other thing is I’ve never wanted for my career to be involved in simply making money or anything like that, not that that is necessarily a thing to criticise, but I enjoy helping people and a profession in product safety fulfils that kind of desire.’

The audio and a transcript are on The Maze blog page.

Promoting product safety

In 2013 ISO published a landmark standard 10377 Consumer product safety – guidelines for suppliers. When New Zealand adopted the standard under its own banner in 2017, arrangements were made for it to be available free of charge to any locally registered business. Martin would have had a direct hand in securing this arrangement.

Martin would also have been directly involved in developing the excellent supporting material on Trading Standards’ website: NZ ISO 10377 Frequently Asked Questions, and the accompanying video Consumer product safety: It’s your business. Martin is even one of the onscreen stars.

ISO standard 10377 remains one of the best guides to ensuring safe products and I encourage all businesses everywhere to get a copy. If you’re not in New Zealand, think of it as a (modest) investment.

Retirement well-earned

It’s sad to lose Martin from the product safety family, but there’s no question he’s earned his retirement. I wish Martin and his family all the very best for the future.