Consumer goods compliance regimes
Sellers must ensure they maintain an adequate compliance program to ensure they can demonstrate their goods meet the applicable regulations, part of this requires a seller to be able to demonstrate the goods they are supplying are safe and all the checks and balances that are required to show the products are safe and compliant are in place.
Compliance & surveillance Compliance program
A compliance program is a series of actions required to be completed prior to releasing a product for sale. Sellers should ensure they maintain an adequate product compliance program.
Benefits of a compliance program
Compliance programs help owners and managers to become more aware of the day-to-day operations of their business, therefore reducing the risk of supplying unsafe and non-compliant products. There are a number of benefits to introducing a product safety compliance program to your business, including:
• clearly identifying the operational requirements of your business to meet the law
• reducing your risk of product failure and injury to consumers that may result in litigation
• reducing your risk of supplying non-compliant products that can result in court action and penalties
• providing records of controls and business systems
• providing a set of procedures that improve efficiency in managing your business
• minimizing repetitive complaints from consumers.
Elements of a compliance program
The following elements should be considered when developing a product safety compliance program.
• Responsibility. Either the business owner or a senior manager, known as the Compliance Officer, must have the responsibility to administer the program.
• Commitment. The compliance program must include a commitment to compliance and continual improvement, even if this is as simple as a series of checklists for the products you supply.
• Inspections. The Compliance Officer must complete the checklists and conduct inspections of each shipment of products received.
• Test certificates. The Compliance Officer must obtain appropriate test certificates to ensure products have been regularly tested to the claims made or the mandatory standards required.
• Staff training. Staff should be trained or a least be made aware of compliance requirements and should be encouraged to report any concerns to the Compliance Officer. New products should be shown to staff and the compliance requirements explained.
• Fix problems. Any compliance failure must be fixed before the product is supplied. Supply of non-compliant products can result in legal action against the supplier. A recall with refunds to consumers may also be required.
• Complaints. The first sign of non-compliance is often customer complaints and must not be ignored. Develop a Complaint Handling System as part of the compliance program.
• Complaint handling system (CHS). Develop a CHS that suits your business. The SA Equal Opportunity Commission provides a simple example of a complaint handling procedure. You may wish to seek professional advice. Complaints that are ineffectively handled often result in the matter being reported to government regulators.
• Records. For your compliance program to be effective and reduce your risk you must keep written records on file.
• Mandatory standards. Regulated products have mandatory requirements such as labelling and performance levels. The Compliance Officer must be aware of these mandatory standards.
Product testing helps suppliers ensure that the products they supply in the Australian market meet mandatory safety standards and are able to meet any claims made about them.
Why products are tested?
Product testing is one way of preventing unsafe products from entering the Australian market, and ensuring supplier responsibilities are met.
It is the responsibility of the seller to ensure the products they supply:
• are not banned
• are free from defects
• meet mandatory safety standards
• meet any claims made about them. Refer to Mandatory standards for products regulated by the ACCC