Burns prompt ban on portable ethanol burners

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ConsumerProduct safety

Portable decorative ethanol burners will be banned from sale in Western Australia from midnight tonight, with recent serious injuries reported throughout Australia increasing concerns about their safety.

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin has approved an immediate 60-day interim ban on the sale of the products pending further assessment by Consumer Protection, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and other consumer agencies nationally.

Mr Mischin said 113 injuries - many serious - and 115 fire incidents had been reported throughout Australia since 2010.

“These worrying statistics may just be the tip of the iceberg, as we believe there could be many more incidents and injuries involving decorative ethanol burners that have not been reported to consumer agencies and fire emergency services,” he said.

“In October this year, a 28-year-old Perth woman suffered serious burns to her face and upper body after an ethanol burner exploded in the backyard of a Safety Bay home.  This was closely followed by two people being injured in Queensland from an ethanol burner accident.

“The biggest danger arising from these products occurs when consumers re-fuel the burner when it is still lit or warm.  When the fuel is low, the flame can appear blue or clear, making it difficult to see.  There is also a risk of the burner being knocked over, especially by children or pets, potentially causing serious burns to people nearby as well as damage to property.”

The interim ban only affects the portable or table-top versions of the product and does not affect products with a power output of more than 4.5 kilowatts and those used in the heating or warming of food.  Ethanol fireplaces that are installed in a fixed position are not included in the ban, however, further investigations into injuries are being carried out.  In the meantime, caution is still strongly recommended in the use of these fireplaces.

Retailers and online traders based in WA must take the banned products off their shelves or delete them from online catalogues and cease sales from midnight.  There are tough penalties for selling banned products, with individuals facing a maximum fine of $220,000 and corporations facing a maximum fine of $1.1 million.

“WA consumers who have ethanol-fuelled burners in their home should cease using them immediately.  After further investigations are complete, consumers will be advised if they can return the product for a full refund and the store may require proof of purchase such as a receipt or a credit card/bank statement,” Mr Mischin said.

Fact File

 

Media contact:  Minister's office 6552 5600

Consumer Protection
Media release
20 Dec 2016

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