Manufacturers and suppliers in Australia are increasingly facing competition from products that do not conform to standards and regulatory requirements.
The regulatory burden, which is increasingly falling on importers and producers who play by the rules, is exacerbated by non-compliant products that unfairly affect the market for legitimate product suppliers. Affected sectors include electrical manufacturing, building products, automotive components, industrial equipment and food manufacturing.
Concerns are heightened in circumstances where governments move to impose cost-recovery enforcement models on industry. Businesses feel they are effectively forced to pay twice under these regulatory models: once to cover the cost of their own compliance, and secondly to fund government enforcement on non-compliant competitors.
When a growing number of companies believe the benefits of noncompliance outweigh the risk of being penalised, businesses that are adhering to the increasing burden of regulations are placed at a huge competitive disadvantage. Some sectors are however, achieving engagement and response from regulators to start to address non-compliance.
The electrical equipment industry for instance, is working with regulators to redesign the current state-based electrical safety regulations, the key objective being to achieve harmonisation across jurisdictions, visibility of equipment suppliers to regulators and consumers, and increased surveillance and compliance activity.
All electrical regulators have agreed to the Australian Industry Group’s electrical industry awareness campaign, highlighting the dangers and regulatory risks of purchasing non-conforming products. Everyone involved in the electrical equipment supply chain including manufacturers, suppliers and contractor installers have serious legal obligations to ensure that equipment supplied or installed meets the compliance and regulatory standards of Australia.
The risks of importing, selling, supplying or installing non-compliant or counterfeit electrical equipment include fire, injury and death, potentially leading to fines, imprisonment, loss of licences, invalidation of liability insurance, legal action and risk to professional reputation.
Possible solutions in the electrical equipment sector include the use of a common compliance mark and a suggestion that electrical contractors ask equipment suppliers for proof of compliance. The regulations in this industry sector require suppliers to be able to prove compliance to product standards.
The wider issue of non-compliant products across all industry sectors needs to be addressed by industry and governments at all levels. The Australian Industry Group is working hard to ensure that governments understand the significance of this issues and its potential to affect community safety and the viability of businesses.
Potential solutions may include high-level government direction including an education campaign, regulators agreeing that non-compliant products are a significant concern and a high priority, and additional regulatory resources targeting non-compliant products.
The full article is available in the latest issue of the AMT magazine from AMTIL