Number of businesses raided over deadly USB chargers rises to 260

Hundreds of businesses across New South Wales and Victoria have been raided as the fall-out over the death of a woman from a faulty USB charger continues.

Nine businesses in NSW were raided at the end of June in relation to unsafe USB chargers, travel adaptors and power boards, following the death of a woman in North Gosford on the state’s central coast in April.

The number of raids has now risen substantially, with reports the NSW Office of Fair Trading has carried out 260 raids in recent weeks.

According to Fairfax, inspectors in NSW carried out raids across 21 of Sydney’s suburbs last week, seizing 76 unsafe electrical items, including chargers and adapters.

At least two business owners are facing possible prosecution, with corporations facing an $875,000 fine as a maximum penalty. Individuals face a maximum fine of $87,500 and two years’ imprisonment.

A spokesperson for Energy Safe Victoria confirmed to SmartCompany this morning a number of Victorian businesses have also been raided for similar devices.

“Energy Safe Victoria has not had any reports of injuries from these devices in Victoria but unapproved and non-compliant chargers have been found for sale in Victoria and removed from sale,” says the spokesperson.

News Corp reports unapproved devices were seized from a number of convenience and phone stores in Melbourne’s CBD last week, as well as from stalls at the Queen Victoria Markets.

Victorian businesses that ignore requests to remove unapproved items from sale face fines of up to $2952 per item, while individuals can be fined $590 per item.

If a case is taken to court, the maximum penalty is $29,522 for a corporation and $5904 for an individual.

The spokesperson said Energy Safe Victoria audited 2154 products in the 2013-14 financial year, with 137 items found to be non-compliant with safety regulations. These included a battery charger, power board, blender, desk lamps and lights.

The spokesperson said the regulator audits shopping centres, large retailers, discount shops and markets and online sites, including eBay, Gumtree and Facebook, on a regular basis.

NSW Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox said in a statement last week raids on businesses believed to be selling the devices will continue.

“Unapproved electrical goods can be potential death traps, putting consumers at serious risk,” said Mason-Cox.

“NSW Fair Trading won’t hesitate to take action against any trader found to be selling these items.”

Last week, inspectors from the Office of Fair Trading visited businesses in Haymarket, Chinatwon, Darling Harbour, Ashfield, Marrickville, Eastwood, Dapto, Wollongong, Auburn, Silverwater, Parramatta, Hurstville and Campsie.

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