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Safety company caught out for promoting “compulsory” products

Wednesday, 11 January 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

A workplace safety company based in NSW has pledged to remedy alleged misrepresentations made to small businesses concerning the need for its products.

 

Australian Workplace Services specialises in workplace safety, providing small businesses with first aid kits, safety signs, and emergency and first aid procedures.

 

In a statement released today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it has accepted court-enforceable undertakings from AWS and its director John O’Halloran.

 

The ACCC alleges that since at least October 2009, the company made false or misleading representations to small businesses through the use of prepared scripts in the course of selling or promoting its safety products.

 

These representations claimed that the relevant state workplace safety laws required businesses to maintain workplace safety charts of the same nature as those supplied or offered for supply by AWS, when in fact there was no such requirement.

 

“Where a business sells products through the use of a sales script, it needs to give careful consideration to the message that the script may convey,” ACCC deputy chairman Michael Schaper said in a statement.

 

“It is inappropriate and unacceptable to misrepresent to small businesses that they are legally obliged to maintain or purchase such items.”

 

AWS has admitted that by making these representations, concerning the need for AWS’s workplace safety charts, it was likely to have breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Australian Consumer Law.

 

AWS has cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation and has taken steps to address its concerns, including giving the ACCC a court-enforceable undertaking that it will:

  • Not make representations to consumers that they are required by state or territory workplace health and safety laws to maintain information and materials of the same nature as those supplied or offered for supply by AWS, when this is not the case.
  • Publish a corrective notice on its website.
  • Implement a trade practices compliance program.