Hardware retail chain Bunnings Group has agreed to strengthen its compliance after the consumer watchdog in Australia found the Group had sold window blinds that did not meet safety requirements.

In a statement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says routine market surveillance uncovered practices whereby Bunnings sold Matchstick Blinds that did not carry mandatory safety warnings on retail packaging between January and March 2013, potentially exposing children to strangulation by the cord where blinds were not installed according to instructions.

The consumer watchdog says Bunnings, which has already recalled over 3,600 Matchstick Blinds, has agreed to strengthen its compliance program for window coverings to include pre-shipping inspections, regular audits and an upgrade of training for management and buyers.

Safety warnings are crucial, especially when they relate to children,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said, adding loose curtains and blinds present dangers of chocking where children who play with them become entangled and are not able to release themselves.

“Labels on external packaging are meant to warn consumers prior to purchase of the risk of serious injury to children.”

In order to be safe, the ACCC says curtains or blinds which are either loose or looped should be secured with cleats or tension devices that enclose cords and chain loops in order to keep them out of children’s reach.

Windows with corded blinds or curtains should not be near cots, beds, highchairs or playpens, while sofas, chairs, tables, shelves and bookcases should be kept well away from such windows.

More broadly, the ACCC says blind and curtain cords should never hang within children’s reach and children should be supervised in any room where such cords are present.

The latest developments come amid ongoing debate over window safety in houses and apartments throughout Australia.

Earlier this week, the New South Wales government said it would amend Strata and Residential Tenancies legislation to require building owners and corporations to install safety devices on all windows that posed a risk to children which limit the width of window opening to 12.5 centimetres when the lock is engaged.

  • Interesting – Suspect we will see more of this across a wider range of businesses and industries as we import more from certain countries

  • I have a little knowledge of the negotiation tactics used by big business. Once they arrive at a price they are prepared to pay it is not long before another company starts selling a similar product cheaper than them. One thing they dislike emencely is margin loss. They will go back to supplier and dump the pressure on regards cost reduction. The way the producers work in certain very large country is if the customer comes back at them wanting to pay 39 dollars for something they had agreed to pay 49 dollars for. They will work out a way of producing it for 19 dollars and still charge the customer his desired 39 dollars. It’s their way of dealing with the aregant white man.
    In short Lloyd I believe you are very right in what you say as certain large companies think they have it all sown up but I think they are not as cleaver as they believe.

  • Their pool fencing is not compliant also

  • The list of non-compliant, untested, non-certified building products is very large in Australia and rapidly growing.

    Lots of products are falsely branded with a “stamp” to say they have been certified to some foreign testing regime, and disturbingly, the shortfall in fire rating, structural adequacy or health & safety standards is not visible to the naked eye. As a consequence, the potential rectification costs, threats to health and safety and ongoing maintenance/replacement costs is also rapidly growing.

    Inferior products are always cheaper to buy, and there is an increasing tendency for customers to source their own materials and request the builder to use them, or for the builder to specify them to increase already low or non-existent profit margins.

    The ABCB have introduced the CodeMark scheme for product testing and certification to Australian codes and standards. However it can be a difficult, time consuming and costly exercise to test some products and materials. Several groups including the Australian Window Association (AWA), Engineered Wood Product Association of Australia (EWPAA) and ACRS for reinforcing steel have introduced their own product testing schemes (adding to the confusion).

    The “watch list” of products includes fire collars, fire rated wool, fire doors, plasterboard, glass wool insulation, solar panels, hot water tanks, coated steel products, engineered wood products, electrical products, float glass, windows, and lightweight concrete products.

    The ACCC has no direct role in enforcing Australian Standards that apply to building products and enforces Australian Consumer Law only (relating to the supply of goods and services generally), and “prohibits suppliers from making false representations or misleading or deceptive statements.” But with the plethora of products flooding the market and lack of official complaints to the body, I see the problem getting worse before it gets better.

  • I have seen all to often our industry contributing to this issues. Architects and building designers often specify code compliant, DTS product, only to get it “rolled” by a builder who has won a tender based on using an inferior product to keeps its tender submission lower than the competition.
    I tend to think the best way to deal with these issues from a builders perspective is to ensure our suppliers can provide suitable documentation to support its suitability to Australian Standards and the NCC.