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GRC Professional : GRC Summer 2013
16 GRC Professional • Summer 2013 LESSONS LEARNED ENSURING GOODS MEET SAFETY standards can be a double-edged sword for retailers. It is not a legal requirement to have a Pass Test report on hand proving merchandise meets relevant mandatory Australian standards, but if called upon to prove a product is safe, compliance cannot be proven without a Pass Test report. It is a trap for unwary players says Ros Fraser, Audit, GRC and Compliance manager for Qualspec Testing and Research Centre in Sydney. "There is product that retailers will be diligent about testing, but they might see other goods as low-risk to their business, so may not test them. Many retailers place reliance on their suppliers to ensure that merchandise meets relevant standards. "Retailers and wholesalers are likely to be called upon to produce a Pass Test report if an issue is detected in the event of regulatory market surveillance or a consumer is injured. "But if required to produce proof of compliance, they are unlikely to have a Pass Test report because if the product had met required sta nda rds, it is unlikely that problematic merchandise would have been made available to the consumer. Understanding the need to test and meet standards, Fraser says compliance shouldn't be confused with the quality of a product. "You can have a compliant product made of inferior or superior material. "Defining compliance has different considerations to defining quality." Retailers need to consider a number of issues for various products. For instance, a globally recognised brand might meet US standards but not Australian standards, she says, citing sunglasses where the standard is both mandatory and different in Australia because of high ultra-violet light exposure. The standards-driven testing process for children's sleepwear involves assessing the garment for styling, components and embellishments, fabrics used and how it responds to a flame spread test. It may seem like a complex process, but Fraser says "most test reports are three to four pages with a pass or fail summary, so reviewing a test report is not a particularly onerous or complex process". Fraser says offering compliant merchandise should not be as daunting for retailers as it sounds. Department stores stock a diverse range of products, but mandatory standards applicable to commonly bought "consumer goods" are less than 100, with many of these being related to mandatory information labelling. SAI Global publishes around 8000 standards with about 20 per cent of those mandatory across all industries. "For a business to have a robust compliance program, the first step is to achieve long-term commitment from top management, then to integrate a culture of compliance throughout the business with training," she says. Importa nt also is understa nding the compliance risks associated with doing business. In these instances, the mitigation of the risk could be in maintaining awareness of legislation and standards applicable to the product range by the business, submitting a sample product to independent laboratories for testing; understanding whether you r product does comply; retaining compliance documentation; and sound record-keeping to avoid future issues, either with regulators or consumers. ••• For more information on safety standards, click on www.productsafety.gov.au Girls Sequin Butterfly Short Sleeve Pyjama Girls Bunny Short Sleeve Pyjama Girls Short Sleeve Burst Pyjama Nicki Short Sleeve Nightie Girls Heart Short Sleeve Pyjama Recalled products Light-handed approach to testing not worth risk
GRC Spring 2012
GRC Autumn 2013