What businesses must do to ensure their products are safe, including legal requirements.

Your responsibilities for product safety

The products you make available in New Zealand as a business (which includes importing, manufacturing, distribution and selling) should be safe. You are responsible for the safety of your products and for putting it right if your products are found to have safety issues, ie recalling the products.

You are responsible for:

  • ensuring products are safe which includes meeting mandatory product safety standards and bans
  • monitoring the safety of products over their lifecycle, tracking incidents etc
  • acting on safety issues once you become aware of them to get the issue sorted.

If you need help building product safety processes and systems into your business refer to NZS ISO 10377:2017 Consumer product safety – Guidelines for suppliers. The standard takes a whole lifecycle approach to product safety, helping businesses take the right steps to ensure their products are safe. It’s also scalable and applicable to businesses large and small.

Find more information about the standard, the benefits it offers for your business and how to get free access to the standard for your business:

Making sure products are safe(external link)

Laws for product safety

In New Zealand there are several laws that deal with product safety. How and where the laws apply varies depending on the type of product and where it is used. Different government agencies look after the different laws.

Product type and agency responsible

This list outlines the various product areas and the agencies that look after them:

Consumer/general products

Product Safety(external link)

Regulated consumer products – bicycles; children’s nightwear and toys; cigarette lighters; cots; pistol crossbows; candles; hot water bottles; chainsaws; small magnets; multipurpose ladders.

Commerce Commission(external link)

Electric and Gas products and appliances

Worksafe — Energy Safety(external link)

Food and items in contact with food (toxicity)

Ministry for Primary Industries(external link)

Hazardous substances (including cosmetics)

Environmental Protection Authority(external link)

Medicines and medical devices or equipment

Ministry of Health — Medsafe(external link)

Psychoactive substances

Ministry of Health(external link)

Road vehicles, vehicle equipment, helmets (bicycle and motorcycle), children's car seats

New Zealand Transport Agency(external link)

Workplace products

Worksafe(external link)

Product safety and the Consumer Guarantees Act

The Consumer Guarantees Act also applies if there is a safety issue with one of your products. You are required to remedy the issue for the customer in the same way as if the product was not of acceptable quality.

Read Obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act to find out more about your responsibilities.

Overseas laws don't apply

Overseas laws don’t apply in New Zealand. Just because it’s possible to import and sell products from overseas it doesn’t mean the products are safe or compliant in New Zealand. You need to do your due diligence to make sure the products in question are safe and compliant – this also reduces the risk for having to recall a product in the future.

How to ensure your products are safe

As a business you are responsible for the safety of your products. You can reduce the risk to consumers and your business by being aware of the legal requirements and general safety obligations.

Having good practice systems and process in place to manage product safety will help protect your consumers, build your business profile and reduce business risk.

Good practice systems and process

Trading Standards (part of MBIE) recommends businesses adopt NZS ISO 10377:2017 Consumer Product Safety – Guidelines for suppliers. This standard has good practice principles and processes businesses can use to help ensure products are safe.

NZS ISO 10377 is applicable regardless of the size of your business or position in the supply chain. You can pick up and apply the relevant parts of the standard, and even bring it in incrementally by focussing on higher risk products first.

Find more information about the standard, the benefits it offers for your business and how to get free access to the standard for your business:

Guidelines for suppliers(external link)