About Product Safety
Trading Standards administers the product safety elements of the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act.
What we do
Trading Standards oversees product safety in New Zealand. We regulate the safety of a wide range of products — excluding food, medicines, energy or vehicle products, which are handled by other government agencies. We work to reduce the risks and hazards that products may pose to New Zealand consumers.
We prepare advisory and guidance material and resources for consumers and businesses, to promote product safety.
Responding to complaints
We investigate and respond to complaints about product safety — except for products that are:
- subject to mandatory product safety standards (the Commerce Commission investigates these), or
- otherwise covered by other regulations — such as food and medicines.
Monitoring and market surveillance
We monitor and investigate emerging national and international product safety risks and issues, and implement appropriate responses. We investigate and analyse data, and give advice to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs about emerging product safety issues and the application of Minister’s Fair Trading Act powers.
We also undertake market surveillance, including visiting traders and suppliers, and sampling and testing products.
We monitor voluntary compliance with national standards where there’s information that there may be the potential for injury but the need for formal government intervention has not yet been established.
Using the Consumer Guarantees Act condition that a product must be safe, we adopt the philosophy that voluntary national standards (NZ, Australian, European etc) provide a reasonable minimum benchmark for safety requirements. There is an expectation that:
- products will comply with the critical safety requirements of voluntary national standards, and
- redress is available to consumers if they don't.
If an investigation concludes that critical safety requirements are not being met, Trading Standards assesses whether the powers of the Fair Trading Act are required, depending on the potential injury risk involved and the ability and/or willingness of the suppliers to voluntarily self-regulate.
Working with other agencies
We liaise and consult with other government agencies that may have an interest or be affected by any proposed government intervention.
We maintain strong national and international relationships with organisations such as:
- Safety regulators — Ministry of Health, Commerce Commission, Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries.
- Australia/New Zealand Product Standards Committees (eg, children’s toys, household cost, prams and strollers and pedal bicycles).
- International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization and International Consumer Product Safety Caucus.
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Product Safety Consultative Committee (Australia).
- General Administration of Quality.
- Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (China).
- business and trade organisations such as the Retail NZ and the Employers and Manufacturers Association.
We manage the all-of-government Product Recalls website, and provide advice on product safety recall notices. We also monitor and respond to product safety recall notices posted by overseas regulators and reported by businesses.
The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has specific powers, under the Fair Trading Act, to:
- implement mandatory recalls
- ban products with Unsafe Goods Notices, and
- set Product Safety Standards
- issue product safety policy statements.
These measures are enforceable by the Commerce Commission and New Zealand Customs.
How we do it
We work to promote compliance with the relevant safety standards wherever possible. We liaise closely with other agencies — both national and international — to provide targeted and timely responses to issues, develop our expertise, and locate gaps in coverage.
We take an evidence-based approach to product safety issues, and actively monitor, investigate and develop risk-based responses to emerging issues.