MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - Australia's plastics industry has implemented a safe standard for plastic chairs, after a spate of injuries and one death. The death was a pet Chihuahua, crushed after a large man sat in a plastic chair that collapsed. But the industry decided a standard was required to protect chair buyers.
Millions of molded, one-piece plastic chairs are bought in Australia every year for barbecues. Michael MacKellar, chief executive officer of the Australian Plastics & Chemicals Industry Association, said it is difficult to quantify incidents because most are not reported.
With Australia's summer approaching, PACIA's national division manager Dimi Pesudovs, said he has received ``a flood'' of requests for information from North American companies wanting to release new models.
MacKellar said the problem is mainly cheap imported chairs that are not strong enough to support a seated person. About 50 percent of Australia's plastic chairs are imported.
The Australian plastics industry developed the standard in association with the Australian Consumers' Association and the Australian Furniture Research & Development Institute.
MacKellar said the new Australian standard draws from existing U.S., European and British standards. A 24-page document outlines test methods for determining the chairs' strength, durability and stability.
To receive authorization under the standard, manufacturers and importers must provide detailed test reports.
Pesudovs said chairs that meet the standard will be clearly marked with an AFRDI label, but PACIA is unable to stop imports of chairs that do not meet the standard.
He said all Australian industry standards are voluntary and it is up to chair retailers to enforce the standards when calling for suppliers.
He said Australia's biggest chair retailer, Target, will not buy chairs without the AFRDI label.