Author: Chian Kee | Date: 8 December 2013 | Please Comment!

You may have already gathered that I have a thing about infant product safety.

I understand that there are some activities involving babies that carry inherent risk, like bathing or travelling in a car.  This means that you can’t expect a baby car seat to make car travel magically completely safe, otherwise we’d all be sitting in one, and you can’t expect to be able to leave a baby alone safely in a baby bath, no matter how high-tech, unless and until such point as our baby baths achieve sentience.

4moms infant tub

 

When your baby bath comes with two cup holders, world domination can’t be far behind.

If you manufacture a product that might harm my son if used or misused, I’d like you to disclose that to me before I use it (preferably before I buy it).  So for car seats and baby baths, I accept that it does good to place relatively self-evident warnings on them because you know that the child may otherwise be in harm’s way.  That said, there must surely be some acknowledgement that certain risks are so obvious that people who don’t naturally take precautions against them probably don’t have the mental prowess to read the warning labels anyway.

Fire: Apparently not just a risk for liars who wear pants

Having recently acquired an impractical quantity of baby clothes, I have noticed a great example of over-warning in the “Low/High Fire Danger” label that children’s nightwear is required by Australian law to have stitched into the back of the neck.

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There are only two kinds of Danger according to the standard, “Low” and “High”, with “High” being defined as anything that doesn’t fit into the “Low” category.  For those of you keeping score, this means that everything that the standard applies to needs to be labeled as a fire danger.

Do you manufacture a child’s nightie made out of a fire blanket lined with asbestos? Better label it as a low fire danger otherwise children may be at risk.

These labels are a mandatory safety standard, meaning that the ACCC can step in and fine you if you deviate from the standard.  For example, GAP was fined $51,000 in October for printing the correct labels, but placing it in the wrong place on the garment.  They were also forced to promise to recall the garments and provide refunds to customers who were concerned about the misplacement of their fire warning label.

What this effectively amounts to is a warning not to set your baby on fire while they are dressed in nightwear.  But why stop there? Why isn’t there anything on the label instructing me of the dangers of ejecting my child into the vacuum of space wearing his onesie?

thinkofthechildrenloco

Of course, as with any government policy, there are some reasonable exceptions to avoid the standard from being imposed in inappropriate circumstances.  For example, tshirts are exempt – because you’d have to be crazy to ignite your offspring in a tshirt right?  Also,  if your nightwear is also swimwear, it is excluded too – because if you’ve bought children’s nightswimwear one would then reasonably assume your child sleeps in your sentient baby bath, and if that’s the case, you’re on your own.

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