A permanent ban on small, high powered magnets was announced recently by the Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC) and has come into effect on November 15, 2012. This permanent ban follows the interim ban on similar magnets approved by the Commonwealth Minister in early August. The magnets, which are used in certain novelty items marketed to adults, can cause serious injury or death if swallowed or inhaled by children.
The permanent ban applies to magnets that:
are loose or separable;
are supplied as aggregated masses or in multiples of two or more;
are small enough to fit into the small parts cylinder used in the mandatory standard for toys for children up to and including 36 months of age (AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2010);
have a magnetic flux equal to or greater than 50 kG2mm2 under clause 5.31 of AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2010; and
are marketed by the supplier as, or supplied for use as any of the following:
a toy, game or puzzle (including but not limited to an adult desk toy, an educational toy or game, a toy, game or puzzle for mental stimulation or stress relief);
a construction or modelling kit; or
jewellery to be worn in or around the mouth or nose
This ban is intended to have a narrow focus by only banning small high powered magnets which are marketed or supplied for use as toys or for one of the other specified uses. It does not ban small high powered magnets:
used for industrial, commercial or scientific applications;
which are components in household electronic goods; or
being used in educational institutions for teaching purposes.
Anyone in the business must not sell these products and must remove them from sale, including online sales. A supplier who fails to comply with a ban may be found guilty of a criminal offence. The maximum fine is $220,000 for an individual or $1.1 million for a body corporate. Civil penalties for the same amounts also apply. This is an offence of strict liability, which means a court does not have to consider the person’s intentions before finding them guilty.