Public safety risk from dodgy USB style chargers

Date: Jun 30, 2014

A public safety warning has been issued against dodgy USB style chargers after the death of a NSW consumer earlier this year.

The unapproved devices do not meet strict Australian standards and using the chargers could cause injury or, in the worst worse case scenario, death. Department of Fair Trading officials recently removed a number of non-compliant style chargers, adapters and power boards at a shop in Campsie.

The USB style chargers that are usually used for laptops and phones are connected to a case in April, when a Sydney woman died in an apparent electrocution.

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said the trader, who runs a mobile phone accessory shop and stall, is facing possible prosecution.

"Maximum penalties are $87,500 and/or two years imprisonment for an individual and $875,000 for a corporation," a Department of Fair Trading media statement read.

Mr Stow told Fairfax Media that authorities didn't know the scale of cheap dangerous chargers sold in NSW.

"This is the first time we've been aware of them in large numbers," he said.

In chargers and adaptors analysed by the department, manufacturers had used inferior plastic and other materials. Some of the devices didn't even have insulation on pins, or approval marks. 

The Department of Fair Trading is reminding consumers to avoid all unapproved electronic products and warns retailers about their responsibility to meet regulations under the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004. In this case, the products were not authorised to be sold in Australia and were manufactured in China or Hong Kong.

If you have USB chargers or adaptors which are non-approved or do not carry appropriate safety marks, then you are recommended to bend the pins of the chargers and then dispose the device. Users can contact Fair Trading to provide authorities with information about who is selling the illegal electronic devices and where they are located.

Product liability in NSW

If you have purchased an electronic device and are subsequently injured by following its intended use, you could be eligible for compensation.

Injuries from products are more common than most people think so if you believe you have a case, contact a compensation lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners.

These lawyers operate on a no win no fee basis so they can advise you on your chances of success free of charge – if they think you have a case, it's completely up to you whether you engage their services.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.