Manufacturers, importers and exporters need to be aware of the mandated regulations usually law for the region of intended sale. Importers are ultimately responsible for the products they import to market, even if they are not the original manufacturer. This typically requires expert advice from compliance experts, that are well versed in the legalities concerning product compliance.
There are mandated minimum requirements for most electronic and electrical for the large markets such as Europe, North America and so on with many countries constantly updating and changing the requirements. This means that what was correct 5 years ago may no longer be valid to demonstrate compliance today. Minimum legislative laws for electrical products typically focus on product safety, but in many markets, the minimum requirements are not limited to just product safety. These laws are in place to protect the general public from issues arising from defective or harmful products. Sadly some defective products do reach the general consumer and there have been some high profile situations were serious or injury has occurred. A horrific example of this was a USB charger that caused a woman to die from apparent electrocution. In addition to the broad applicability of compliance requirements such as electrical safety, Radio wireless & electromagnetic compatibility there are also product safety requirements for particular products, typically for items such building materials, cosmetics, household chemicals, toys etc.
We’ll focus on the Australian and New Zealand market as we are an independent accredited product compliance testing laboratory based in Australia. Not all countries have the same requirements and other factors can also influence the testing and the product specification itself. So before importing, manufacturing or selling products in Australia, it is essential to understand the Australian and New Zealand mandatory safety standards and Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) requirements. Some products require certification registration on the ERAC National Database. Australian Consumer Law (ACL) requires guaranteeing the safety of a product when sold. This includes that the product is safe, have no faults, look acceptable and perform the functions normally expected of the product. If these standards are not met the consumer is entitled to a refund, replacement or repair. Distributing a non-compliant product is an offence under the law in Australia and New Zealand. If caught may result in product recalls and substantial fines. The maximum fine for an individual (example eBay seller importing electrical products from China and selling in Australia) is AU$500,000, for a body corporate the greater of AU$10,000,000, three times the value of the benefit received or 10% of the annual turnover in the proceeding 12 months if the value of the benefit cannot be determined. For information regarding the ACMA technical standards i.e. Regulatory Compliance Mark, that is made under three legislative Acts, which also includes the fines and penalties (including possible imprisonment) please refer to the relevant Australian Federal Register of Legislation act:
- Section 376 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Telecommunications Act) for specified customer equipment and customer cabling
- Section 162 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Radiocommunications Act) for radiocommuncations, EMC and EME
- Section 9A of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Broadcasting Services Act) for digital broadcasting reception equipment.
As discussed previously, there are mandatory product safety standards in Australia for products compulsory for the legal supply of the product into the Australian market. These are the mandated standards that complement the additional voluntary standards. Additionally, there may be other agencies requiring certification or compliance, a good example, is the pharmaceutical (Therapeutic Goods Administration, TGA). Even if there is not an applicable standard but the product is unsafe, then the Australian and New Zealand governments and agencies have the right to order a cease of supply and also invoke an ordered product recall. If your product is electrical or electronic it may also be subject to the Regulatory Compliance Mark requirement’s as per the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) set out. For more details on the RCM please visit our RCM page. To summarise these requirements, it includes; Electrical safety, Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), Radio/wireless communications, Human exposure to RF (Electromagnetic Radiation, i.e. EMR) and Telecommunications. In addition to these 5 fields, particular labelling (RCM AU & NZ or RSM mark in NZ) and end-user information requirements may apply. These are designed to ensure that products work as intended together and that persons are not exposed to RF over the allowable limit of RF radiation.
In most cases, valid documentation such as test reports is needed to show compliance to the AS/NZS (Australian and New Zealand Standards) mandated standards. Not all testing is required to be carried out at an accredited facility, but it is highly recommended. Accredited testing ensures that the laboratory conducting the testing has met a minimum quality of testing to fulfil the quality and technical requirements of the standard. Always ensure that the test laboratory is specifically accredited for the testing required. As the responsible party, it is essential that you can defend your decision to choose and rely on the test report issued from the product test lab selected to perform the product compliance. In some cases, the manufacturer may provide either local AS/NZS test reports, or even CE or FCC test reports. In some instances, technical report reviews can demonstrate the suitability of such documentation.
Importing from other regions into a local market can be a very lucrative business, however, it does have risks. Ensuring a good supplier with product safety quality assurance procedures, regular checks, clear user instructions (including disclaimers) and product recall procedures helps. But independent product compliance services including testing is essential to ensure that your product safety and mandated legally required compliance requirements are fulfilled.
Strict laws as set out for Australia and New Zealand concerning product safety and are the obligation of the supplier be it either a manufacturer or an importer. Failure to meet the mandatory regulations and standards may result in fines and mandatory recalls. Call the product compliance experts today and find out how we can help! If it’s Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) or Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) for Australia and New Zealand we can be your one-stop service. Visit one of our 4 fantastic product testing laboratories and see your investment in action in our EMC, Radio, EMR, telecommunication and electrical safety compliance testing facilities.