PRODUCT RECALLS: STREAMLINE YOUR METHODS TO LIMIT THE DAMAGE


WHEN IS A RECALL NEEDED?

As the supplier of a product, your company is responsible for ensuring that the product you supply is safe. Sometimes issues arise unexpectedly and your company will need to be ready to act.

There are many ways that you can be alerted to a safety issue, including via your supply chain, customer returns and reviews, overseas recalls of the product and media reports, to name a few.

You should recall a product immediately if you become aware that it:

  • has or could injure a person, including injury through foreseeable misuse
  • does not comply with mandatory safety standards
  • is the subject of an interim or permanent ban.

By having a recall system already in place, your company is ready to act quickly to prevent products becoming a wider safety hazard.

RECALLING THE PRODUCT AND INFORMING THE ACCC

When you recall a product you must tell the public the product is being removed from sale. You need to contact customers and suppliers to return purchased products for a refund, replacement or modification, or even to destroy or dispose of the product.

Within 48 hours of initiating a recall, you must tell the ACCC. You can submit a recall notification on the ACCC website.

If you have supplied the product to overseas consumers or companies, you must also tell them about the recall.

The risk of loss or damage increases if you delay initiating a recall or if you downplay the risk from the recalled product in your announcement. Either of these can lead to regulatory action by the ACCC.

HOW TO COMMUNICATE A RECALL

When you need to make a recall, it’s important that any language you use is clear, non-technical and unambiguous.

Your recall communications must describe the product, include clear images and explain what action to take, e.g. ‘stop using the product immediately and return for a full refund.’ They must also state any potential harm, without downplaying any risks, including if injuries or incidents have already occurred.

The method of communication can vary according to your company’s circumstances, but in all cases, the information must reach as many affected consumers as possible.
Direct communications can be very effective, e.g. emails, SMS messages, letters and phone calls. Using numerous communication channels will maximise the number of consumers you can reach.

If you don’t know who your customers are or where they are, you will need to advertise more widely – typically this would be via social media, in-store and online, but may also include paid advertising, media releases and by alerting industry bodies.

HOW LONG SHOULD A RECALL CONTINUE FOR?

There’s no set timeline for product recalls. When you initiate a recall and inform the ACCC, you will be contacted to let you know how often you should submit a progress report and what information to include.

Your company should continue providing remedies for consumers until all of the products are accounted for. If you reach a point where all products have been returned or disposed of, you’ll need to inform the ACCC, and the recall can be terminated.

It might not be possible to achieve a 100% return rate for all affected products, in which case you need to decide if your company has done enough to reduce risk to consumers. For example, you should consider whether you have:

  • communicated well with suppliers to make sure they understand the recall process by returning the product
  • communicated well with consumers, including advertising multiple times through a range of communication channels
  • achieved a return rate that fits the risk to consumers and the lifespan of the product
  • assessed the product’s failure rate by testing a sample of the returned products to see how many are likely to cause an injury if still in use.

Even if the recall is finalised, if less than 100% of products have been accounted for, your company may be required by law to continue to provide remedies for consumers indefinitely. ACCC will only finally close a recall when all of the affected products have been accounted for.

Product recalls by their nature are time consuming and expensive, stretching both human and physical resources in a company. If your company needs assistance with managing product recalls, please contact us. It’s possible you may be able to avoid product recalls altogether with the correct professional testing and certification.


This communication (including any attachment) has been prepared by BWES and is based on the available information at the time of publication and is believed to be true and accurate. The information contained in this communication should be used as a guide only and may cease to apply if applicable regulation or the product’s design or application is altered. BWES does not take responsibility for any Injury, Loss for damage suffered by any party’s interpretation or decisions made by any party on the information provided in this communication.