Mandatory safety standards have force under the Australian Consumer Law (Cth) (ACL) once the Commonwealth Minister declares that certain minimum standards should exist in relation to goods and product-related services. These are known as “Mandatory Standards” (Mandatory Standard or Standard) and will apply to manufacturers, wholesalers, hires and retailers. This article will set out how Mandatory Standards come about, and examples of what a business must meet before selling their product.

The Mandatory Safety Standards

Section 104 of the ACL gives the Commonwealth Minister power to make certain safety standards in relation to goods and product-related services. The Product Safety Australia website then lists all the current Standards and product safety information. There are presently 41 Mandatory Standards placed on children’s clothing, toys, infant and nursery products, sports gear, cosmetics and so forth.   

These Standards outline the minimum requirements a product must meet before they are supplied to a business or the public. The specified requirements will include any design, processes or testing, warning or instruction requirements of the goods that are necessary to avoid or reduce the risk of injury to a consumer. We will now outline some of the Standards that currently exist.  

Tobacco Products

Mandatory Standard’s exists in relation to the labelling of tobacco products. The Standard subsists in the Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 (Tobacco Standard). Of note, there are additional requirements under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011. The Tobacco Standard applies to all tobacco products, which are manufactured in, or imported into, Australia.

The Tobacco Standard states that the purpose of the Standards is to provide a system of warnings and informative messages to customers. The application of the Tobacco Standard is that health warnings must cover a “significant part” of a retail tobacco packet. The packaging must be labelled with:

  • Warning statements;
  • Specific graphics;
  • Explanatory messages;
  • Information messages.  

Sunglasses & Fashion Spectacles

Mandatory Standard’s exist in relation to sunglasses and fashion spectacles. The Consumer Protection Notices No.13 of 2003 set out the Standard (Spec Standard).

The purpose of the Spec Standard is to create a uniform testing and classification procedure for sunglasses and fashion glasses. The application of the Spec Standard requires that sunglasses and fashion spectacles are accurately labelled and tested in a particular manner. For example, the Standard requires suppliers test sunglasses and fashion spectacles through specialist laboratories and then classify them in a five-category system. The five-category system is as follows:

  • Lens Category 0: Fashion spectacles – not sunglasses; very low sun glare reduction; some UV protection.
  • Lens Category 1: Fashion spectacles – not sunglasses; limited sun glare reduction; some UV protection; not suitable for driving at night.
  • Lens Category 2: Sunglasses; medium sun glare reduction; good UV protection.
  • Lens Category 3: Sunglasses; high sun glare reduction; good UV protection.  
  • Lens Category 4: Sunglasses – special purpose; very high glare reduction; good UV protection; must not be used when driving. Here, a further symbol (car with a cross through it) must be included.   

Banned Products

As is evident, Mandatory Standards are imposed to protect customers and provide uniformity in their shopping experience for particular products.  However, some products need to be banned. If there is a risk that goods or product-related services will cause serious injury, illness or even death, the ACL provides a procedure in which the products may be banned. A responsible Minister may ban a product:

  • Temporarily (for 60 to 120 days); or
  • Permanently.

Serious penalties exist if you even offer to sell a banned product. The penalty can be up to $1.1 million for a corporation or $220,000 for individuals. A list of currently banned products exists on Product Safety Australia website.  


When a safety problem is identified in a product, the product must be recalled (withdrawn). Recalls may occur in two ways:

  1. A supplier may voluntarily initiate a recall of a product if the product poses a risk of injury or fails to comply with the relevant Standard.  
  2. Under section 122 of the ACL, a responsible Minister may publish on the internet a “recall notice”.  A recall notice will be published, and when this is done, it is an offence to sell that product. Failure to comply with a recall notice may incur a penalty of up to $1.1 million for corporations or $220,000 for individuals.  

Key Takeaways

A business must be aware of the Mandatory Standards that exist in relation to their products and comply with those Standards. It is prudent that proper procedures for ensuring continuous compliance with these Standards is embedded into the business culture.


If you have any questions about the mandatory safety standards your business must satisfy before selling its prodcut, get it touch with our consumer lawyers on 1300 544 755.

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy