A toy importer has been fined $20,000 and three other companies will soon be sentenced on toy safety related charges in the latest Commerce Commission prosecutions.
The fine against Haiwing International Limited means that since the beginning of 2017 fines totalling nearly $900,000 have been handed down by the Courts in 14 successful Commission prosecutions over unsafe toys.
Haiwing had earlier pleaded guilty to two representative charges that, between 1 January 2015 and 17 July 2018, it sold 59 units of an unsafe rubber duck set and 80 units of an unsafe set of squeezy animal toys.
The Commission purchased products from Haiwing’s Trade Me site and sent them for testing, during which the squeaker devices of the ducks and squeezy animal toys became separated, and those devices were established to be a choking hazard to children aged 36 months and under.
In addition, three of the ducks and nine of the squeezy animal toys were small enough to fit through a testing template.This means they pose a risk of lodging in a small child’s throat and are a choking hazard.
In sentencing in the Auckland District Court on 11 April, Judge David Sharp said suppliers of toys need to “be aware of their duties and cautious about compliance,” and he noted that “the absence of compliance mechanisms within the defendant company is an aggravating feature.”
Including discounts for its guilty pleas, co-operation and lack of previous convictions, Judge Sharp initially arrived at a penalty of $40,500 but reduced it to $20,000 in recognition of Haiwing’s financial position.
The Commission’s toy safety cases often arise from the Commission’s ongoing programme of unannounced visits to retailers of toys for children aged 36 months and under across New Zealand.
“These prosecutions are about the safety of children, and it is essential that those involved in supplying and retailing toys for young children understand and comply with their legal obligations,” said Antonia Horrocks, the Commission’s General Manager Competition and Consumer.
“We visit retailers or their online sites, test potentially non-compliant toys and – if need be – prosecute those involved in supplying them. We also try to educate toy suppliers with a wide range of information resources in various languages. If you supply toys for young children we urge you to check our materials, find out about your legal obligations, and pay careful attention to the safety of the toys you supply,” said Ms Horrocks.