The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), together with state and territory fair trading agencies, are conducting a joint national product safety initiative targeting non-compliant sunglasses and fashion spectacles in the lead-up to summer 2013.
Sunglasses supplied in Australia are required to comply with mandatory performance and labelling requirements addressing key safety risks.
Under the mandatory standard, sunglasses and fashion spectacles are darkened or polarised glasses that “provide varying levels of protection from the harmful effects of the sun, whereas fashion spectacles may not.”
In an exclusive interview with mivision, an ACCC spokesperson said officers from the ACCC and state and territory fair trading agencies will visit retail stores across Australia (including online suppliers) that supply sunglasses, with a view to identifying and removing non-compliant products from the market.
The ACCC may also take a range of enforcement actions against suppliers.
The spokesperson said the “integrated product safety strategy for sunglasses and fashion spectacles involves both the physical inspection of sunglasses by Australian Consumer Law regulators at retail outlets and laboratory testing of sunglasses to the various performance requirements outlined in the mandatory standard”.
An interim report will be prepared by the ACCC, as coordinator of the project, and involves the state and territory jurisdictions collating and submitting their individual results to the ACCC to facilitate the production of the interim report. “As the initiate is still being undertaken, we are not able to provide accurate statistics in relation to the outcomes at the present time,” said the spokesperson.
“Suppliers of non-compliant sunglasses face recalling products from the market. The ACCC may also take a range of enforcement actions against suppliers of non-compliant sunglasses including: infringement or public warning notices, seeking court enforceable undertakings or litigation.”
Rodney Grunseit, Managing Director of Sunshades welcomed the clampdown saying, “there is too much product supplied to our industry that is non-compliant. There certainly does not seem to be a level playing field when it comes to compliance and investment in protecting retailers and consumers”.
Philip Rose, National Business Development Manager at Eyecare Plus said his group also welcomes the initiative. “We request that all of our preferred suppliers of sunglass products are compliant with the set Australian Standards and are marked appropriately.
“We strongly recommend that the ACCC does not just check up on retail outlets, but also the many market stalls selling budget sunglasses.”
His sentiment was echoed by Finola Carey, CEO of the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association, who said sunglass standard compliance is an important issue that adds to the cost of the product to the consumer. “However we believe the ACCC should spend more time checking the compliance of sunglasses sold through petrol stations, markets, gift shops and online rather than optometry practices. According to our recent research, these retailers make up about 80 per cent of sunglasses sold in Australia – or about 14 million pieces. Eye care professionals are a compliant group and they don’t tend to sell low quality products,” Ms. Carey said.
The ACCC’s initiative will also focus on providing consumers with valuable safety-related information on effects of eye exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the categories of sunglasses that provide protection against UV rays.
For more information: www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/973548