Stay safe when using 'occy straps'

A NEW safety standard for elastic luggage straps (commonly known as ‘octopus straps’ or ‘occy straps’) comes into effect today, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack says.

As the Minister responsible for consumer affairs and product safety, Mr McCormack said the standard requires a warning label which clearly warns of dangers when removing the hooks.

“Occy straps are a staple of many family holidays, luggage, sheds and workshops around Australia. From tying down tarps on the back of a trailer to baggage on a family holiday, I know many Aussies use occy straps as part of a trip or everyday business,” Mr McCormack said.

“But there are safety hazards, including injuries to someone’s face or head, as well as permanent blindness.”

Mr McCormack said the revised standard updates the text of the warning on the basis of research on warning labels, analysis of injury and consumer comprehension testing.

“In 2015 there were more than 28 serious eye injuries caused by an occy strap whipping back into the user’s face while being hooked or unhooked from item,” Mr McCormack said.

“We all know the serious risk of injury to your eyes or face if you’re not careful.

“I have taken expert advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in updating and implementing this new safety standard which makes the warning more prominent. I encourage consumers to ensure occy straps are secured properly and take care when removing them.”

The new standard comes into effect today. Further detail is available on the ACCC website.

BACKGROUND

A product safety standard for occy straps was introduced in 1989, in response to the risk of death and injuries to the face and head area, and permanent blindness. At this time there were an estimated 170 eye injuries from occy straps in Australia annually. This decreased to approximately 28 injuries in 2015, but significant injuries still occur.

The ACCC reviewed the standard on the basis of research on what makes warning effective and an analysis of injury. A draft text was then tested for consumer comprehension. The ACCC consulted a range of stakeholders, including businesses, safety advocates and experts on an improved warning label. Stakeholders supported the revision.

Suppliers will have a two-year transition to meet the requirements in the new product safety standard for elastic luggage straps.

Cristy Houghton