New national safety standard for ethanol burners

This announcement is for: 
ConsumerProduct safety

A new national safety standard for decorative alcohol-fuelled (ethanol) burners will come into effect on 15 July 2017, replacing an interim ban on the products.

The action to ensure the safety of portable table-top burners comes after reports of more than 100 injuries and 36 house fires in Australia since 2010 and at least three deaths overseas.

WA first introduced an interim ban in December 2016 after a 28 year old Safety Bay woman received serious burns to her face and upper body after an ethanol burner exploded at a backyard barbeque in October 2016.

The new standard developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC):

  • prevents the supply of table top devices (devices which weigh less than 8 kilograms or have a footprint less than 900 square centimetres); and
  • requires freestanding and fixed devices to meet a stability test, come with a fuel container with a flame arrester (or an automatic fuel pump system) and display warnings on the device about refuelling hazards.

The safety standard gives suppliers three months to transition from the national interim ban to the new requirements in the safety standard. Products intended for cooking or heating are exempt.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the new safety regulations will greatly reduce the risk but consumers still need to exercise caution when using any product in the home which contains flammable material.

“The ban on the particular unit involved in the recent horrendous accident in WA will remain as those burners do not comply with this new safety standard,” Mr Hillyard said.

“The new standard addresses the cause of many of the incidents – re-fuelling the unit from the same opening as the burner. The burner’s flame is often hard to see and injuries commonly occur when consumers refuel the device when it is still lit or warm.

“This can cause a flash flame and the fuel to explode from the filler bottle. There is also a risk of the burner being knocked over, especially by children or pets, potentially causing serious burns and damage to property.

“Consumers who have purchased unsafe table top burners should cease using them immediately and return the product to the store where it was purchased for a full refund. Proof of purchase such as a receipt or a credit card/bank statement may be required.”

There are tough penalties for selling products which do not comply with a safety standard. Individuals can face a maximum fine of $220,000 and corporations face a maximum fine of $1.1 million.

Retailers and suppliers can go to the Product Safety Australia website to get further information on the new safety standard. Enquiries or reports of unsafe products being sold in WA can be made by emailing Consumer Protection at consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.

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Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 alan.hynd@dmirs.wa.gov.au  

Consumer Protection
Media release
12 Jul 2017

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