Second major cable recall raises serious questions around product safety

The Australian Cablemakers Association (ACA) has today demanded urgent government action to protect life and property, following another widespread recall of imported faulty cables.

ACA Chairman Andrew Davenport has written to state and territory Ministers responsible for electrical safety regulation, outlining a five-point plan for overhauling the enforcement process for electrical products.

Mr Davenport said the recall of Ecables brand power cables, coming just months after the recall of dangerous Infinity and Olsent-branded cables, raised serious questions about the product approval process.  “The Infinity recall was the largest of its type in Australia’s history, and now we have another situation which the ACA believes presents a more immediate danger – and therefore poses an even greater risk to human safety and property.  “We have outlined a five-point plan to give Australian home owners and electrical contractors greater confidence in the products being sold into our market.”

  1. First of all, there should be an urgent investigation into how two serious product failures can occur in such close proximity. This second incident points to a deeper problem with the self-qualification process.
  2. State electrical safety regulators need greater coordination. Once one regulator rules a product unsafe, the other states should make the same decision, and quickly.
  3. Regulators need better communication when a “stop supply” is agreed with an importer or manufacturer. The message to stop supplying ECables product has not been effectively communicated to the general public, and this could lead to product being installed even after it has been taken off the market.
  4. Assessments of claims that products are unsafe or non compliant need to be made more quickly. It took from June 2014 until October 2014 to have a recall in place for ECables product. The Infinity cables recall took even longer. The delay in completing assessment contributes to added cost for the community, as removing faulty products costs many times more than the cost of the product itself.
  5. And once a cable is determined to be unsafe, all of the installed product must be removed in a timely manner – regardless of whether it is a consumer or trade product.

“In both the Infinity and the Ecables cases, the product had manufacturing flaws that meant they were not even close to reaching the Australian Standard,” Mr Davenport said.

“These flaws undoubtedly create a risk of fire or electric shock, and yet both products were allowed on to the Australian market and remained on sale for a period of years.

“There is clearly a failing with the certification and the follow-up process, and until it is fixed consumers will continue to be placed at risk by sub-standard products.”