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By Katie Mitchell, 11 Apr 2017

Look around you. Chances are, every single electronic appliance and piece of electrical equipment in the room has gone through a safety approval certification process. However, having said that, certification and electrical product testing isn’t cheap – testing alone can reach up to $6,000, so it isn’t rare to find counterfeit electrical products.

Recently, a woman in Sydney was electrocuted while using a cheap USB cable on her laptop, and even HPM’s Excel powerpoints have been faked in a large counterfeit operation that, luckily, was swiftly sorted.

We can do more to keep these awful stories at bay. Ensuring that a product is certified is a good start, but there is a lot more to having a safe and reliable quality product. At the heart of it all, the most important thing is for you to be aware, informed, and proactive.

The new Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)

In 2013, the new Electrical Equipment Safety Scheme (EESS) established new markings to identify electrical compliance through a single Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM). With this new system, registered suppliers are responsible and authorised to place the RCM on approved products without having to display the unique approval number issued by the electrical Regulator in their state or territory. An RCM-tagged product means the product is linked to a responsible supplier and there is accountability if anything goes wrong. Since being issued in 2013, suppliers have until this year to transition their products to the new standard, and sellers were given until 2018 to do the same. Before 2013, holders of Certificates of Approval marked their equipment with a unique approval number that varied between states and territories.

Who’s liable?

Contractors and suppliers or wholesalers have a responsibility to ensure that the products they manufacture, import, or sell comply with Australian regulations.

According to, a campaign supported by the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA):

“A contractor can be deemed liable for damage caused by a non-compliant product, resulting in criminal lawsuits (up to and including manslaughter), cancelled insurance policies, severe penalties from regulators and possible copyright infringement issues.”

Importers and manufacturers need to make sure their products meet the requirements of the electrical equipment safety system (EESS).

What you can do

Learn to recognise the RCM and commit to only using compliant products. If you happen to see non-compliant products or counterfeits, report it to the authorities, which you can do via the ‘Does It Comply’ website. You can also take note of your local Regulator and get in touch with them. It takes a lot of community involvement to keep safety standards in check, and, as they’ve said on their site, the ‘Does It Comply’ campaign was designed to “give the industry a voice”. Together, we can be loud enough to be heard, but that means that we all have a responsibility.


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