Safety concerns have led to the recall of defective electrical cable, a move that is thought to impact an estimated 40,000 homes and business and cost tens of millions of dollars.
The competition watchdog yesterday sounded the alarm about Infinity and Olsent branded electrical cables and is working with 18 electrical wholesalers to recall the products.
Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, said testing had revealed the cable degraded prematurely and could expose live conductors leading to fires or possible electric shock.
The cables were sold between 2010 and 2013 in all states and territories except the Northern Territory by reputable outlets like Masters Home Improvement, Thrifty, Mitre 10 as well as others. The cables are thought to become brittle from 2016.
Households and businesses that had electrical wiring work carried out in the relevant period are encouraged to contact their builder or electrical contractor. If Infinity was used, the cable supplier will arrange for an inspection.
Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, said the recall was another example of the risks to the community of non-conforming products.
“Enforcement of standards and regulations is a part of the conformance framework that is seldom applied to general building and construction products,” he said. “As long as there is a significant presence of non-conforming products in the Australian building and construction market, consumers, employees and businesses will continue to face risks including around safety, business sustainability and long-term asset values.”
Mr Willox said the recall would cost “tens of millions of dollars” but threw his support wholeheartedly behind the ACCC’s action.
Earlier this year, 28-year-old Sheryl Anne Aldeguer was electrocuted by a faulty USB charger and was found with burns to her ears and chest. The incident happened when she was talking over the phone to a friend from Dubai while it was plugged into a charger.
Mr Sims said the recent recall served as a reminder that companies “sourcing or accepting products from less expensive overseas suppliers must have quality assurance processes in place to ensure the safety of consumers”.
“Consumers usually know that the better the bargain the more wary they need to be; consumers would expect companies selling such goods to be wary on their behalf,” he said.
According to the ACCC, the relevant periods in which the defective cable was supplied were 2010-2013 (in NSW), 2011-2013 (in ACT), 2012-2013 (in Vic, Qld, SA & WA) and in 2013 (in Tas).