A recent death that may have been caused by a faulty USB charger
has prompted Australia's Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe, to issue a warning to consumers about the potentially fatal risk of using non-compliant or otherwise unapproved USB style charges. These are typically cheap knock-offs that can find at discounted sites and on eBay.
They can also be found in local stores. Stowe said that Fair Trading investigators recently removed a bunch of unapproved and non-compliant USB chargers, travel adapters, and power boards at a mobile phone accessory shop at a Campsie area. The person running the shop faces possible prosecution.
In such cases, maximum penalties for an individual are $87,500 and/or two years imprisonment, and $875,000 for a corporation.
Unapproved USB Chargers - Source: Fair Trading (Australia)
According to Stowe, unapproved devices don't meet the safety requirements of Australian standards and are often made of inferior plastics and other insulation materials. The devices Fair Trading found had no insulation on pins or approval marks of any kind.
"These devices pose a serious risk of electrocution or fire," Stowe said.
This isn't the first time we've heard of such incidents. In July of last year, a 23-year-old woman from China who worked as a flight attendant with China Southern Airlines was electrocuted
when taking a call on an iPhone 5 that was plugged in and charging. Reports at the time suggested she may have been using a third-party charger and not the OEM one provided by Apple.