When selling potentially harmful goods and services to consumers, businesses have a responsibility to comply with safety warning requirements. As consumers, it is important to look out for and understand these warnings to assist you in making informed choices about your purchasing and how to use the product safely to avoid injury or harm.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, government ministers are able to make mandatory information standards applicable to certain products.  These mandatory standards make particular safety information features on products compulsory if this information is considered necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to a person. 
In addition to safety standards, information standards can relate to ingredient labelling, labelling for tobacco products, or care labelling for clothing and textiles.  Take a look below for some generic warnings safety warnings to look out for on everyday products.
There is a mandatory standard which applies to all aquatic toys designed or clearly intended for children up to 14 years of age and intended to support a child’s weight in water. These toys must be permanently marked with a warning in block capital letters, and in a colour which contrasts with the background: "warning, aquatic toy, use only under supervision".
Swimming pools also have a mandatory standard if they are inflatable, soft sided, or rigid but not deeper than 300 mm. Interestingly, this standard also applies to spas, hot tubs or whirlpool tubs that also meet this definition. These products must display the following warning: “Children have drowned in portable swimming pools. Ensure active adult supervision at all times. Do not leave children unsupervised in or around the pool – keep them within arm’s reach. Empty and store safely after use”
Nearly all children’s toys will require safety warnings, either on the packaging, the product, or both. The type of warning accompanying the toy will differ according to the type of toy. An example is the mandatory standard in relation to magnetic toys: the packaging of these toys must include a statement noting that the product contains magnets which, if swallowed, can stick together across a child’s intestines causing infection and death, and advising to seek immediate medical attention if the magnet is swallowed or inhaled.
Most exercise products will contain safety warnings and this is usually applied to the product itself, as opposed to its packaging. For example, treadmills must display a permanent warning label in an obvious location that is visible while the treadmill is being used. The warning label must have extremely specific wording.
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of a hazardous or dangerous product that did not contain the requisite safety warning labelling, you may have a claim for compensation. Get in touch with our team of product liability experts to find out more.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: August 31, 2018.