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Why Interim Ban on Sale of Unsafe Hoverboards is Proving to be Ineffective

Posted by Sanjeev Kaushik on

Did you hear the news about the hoverboard that caught fire in Bankstown, NSW?

Mother-of-seven Shefa Kabah from Bankstown, recently went through the trauma of dealing with a burning hoverboard in her kids’ room.  For us, who are from this industry, it is really disheartening to see families facing the physical & emotional trauma that incidents like this involve.

The question is who is to be blamed for such incidents?

While authorities have often been blamed and the media has painted the entire hoverboard industry black, spare a thought for those businesses which have gone through the lengthy, painstaking process of getting their products tested and certified by the proper authorities. The sad fact is that despite meeting every safety standard in existence, such companies have seen their sales dip over the last few weeks. This is despite the fact that even the authorities have time and again admitted that it is only a handful of unsafe product suppliers who have cast a slur on the entire hoverboard industry.

While, we certainly hope the Bankstown accident remains the last of its kind, it is also our responsibility as buyers to ensure that we only buy products that are regarded as safe for use and do not get swayed by unbelievable offers.  If a particular deal seems to be too cheap to be true, chances are it is. In most such cases, the product may not meet all the prescribed safety standards. Remember, it is always better to spend a couple hundred dollar extra to buy a safe hoverboard that comes with a complimentary peace of mind rather than going for a cheap one to repent later.

The list of recalls enlisting about two dozen hoverboard brands only serves the purpose of telling the customers, what not to buy. Alas, if only they could tell us what to buy!

Buyers must educate themselves about the safety standards in place so that they don’t fall prey to such unscrupulous sellers. Along with the decision to impose a temporary ban on uncertified hoverboards, ACCC has announced the following certifications that a supplier must have before selling the products in Australia. The supplier may choose to have either UL (Underwriter Laboratories) or IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) certifications.

 

Requirement

 UL option

IEC (or AS/NZS) option

Battery

Section 16 of UL 2272

-       Compliance with this section will in effect require full compliance with the UL 2580 battery standard for batteries used in electric vehicles

Full compliance with the:

-       IEC 62133 battery safety standard for portable applications

Battery control system

Requires compliance with the following sections of UL 2272:

-       Sections 11, 15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, 15.5, 23, 24, 26 & 27

-       These sections relate to safety controls for the battery system

Requires compliance with section 11 – Heating and section 19 – Abnormal operation (both as amended by Annex BAppliances powered by rechargeable batteries) of either:

-       IEC 60335-1 Household electrical appliances general safety standard

OR

-       AS/NZS 60335.1 Household electrical appliances general safety standard (which mirrors IEC 60335‑1)

 

 

Today, there are very few tech-savvy buyers who will spend the time and effort required to research and find out about safety standards for hoverboards. Chances are that you too belong to the majority of buyers who simply could not be bothered to spend time researching and understanding the safety standards and certifications in place for the hoverboard industry and what that means for your product.

So the question still remains unanswered: Can there be an easy way of finding the legit suppliers selling safe self balancing scooters? The list of recalls enlisting about two dozen hoverboard brands only serves the purpose of telling the customers, what not to buy. Alas, if only they could tell us what to buy! Wouldn't it be easy if we just had a list of suppliers (issued by the authorities) telling us who to buy from and thereby, ignoring everyone else irrespective of how attractive their offers? .

Unfortunately, ACCC or any government agency cannot list out the hoverboard brands that they 'consider' to be safe. ACCC does not want to be seen showing favoritism to one supplier over another therefore, it is best to rule out the possibility of magically finding a list of safe hoverboard suppliers in future as well. However, let’s just stretch our imagination and assume for an instance that the authorities do come up with one such list stating the safe suppliers' names who have brought in a shipment of 'safe' products from overseas but then, who is to stop the same suppliers to bring in cheap sub quality or unsafe products in their second shipment or even third one? Thus, if the hoverboard industry aspires to become a globally preferred personal transportation alternative of gasoline propelled motor vehicles then it must produce suppliers with clean conscience and safe products while weeding out the undeserving ones.

Like any other industry, ACCC expects the hoverboard sellers to act in a self regulatory mode where the onus is on the supplier to ensure the safety of their end consumers. In this model, the ACCC only steps in when something goes wrong.  And if you, as a supplier, don't want anything to go wrong, you better have your products tested to make sure they are safe enough to do what they are made to do as we get ample fireworks during New Year's eve and we certainly don't want any more of that, especially not inside our homes.

Lastly, where does the ban leave you as a buyer? In a Dilemma, we reckon! Till date, only Revo Glider has claimed that their hoverboards are safe to use and we at WalkBye strongly recommend buyers to go for this brand until we get more brands joining the league in future.

 


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