A protective clothing company has been fined $52,500 for selling a safety jacket which did not have the protection it claimed against on its garment tags.

Hawera-based company Argyle Performance Workwear Limited was last week sentenced in the Auckland District Court to one charge under the Fair Trading Act for selling jackets which it claimed provided protection against electrical burns.

Argyle claimed its safety jackets, worn by electricity lines workers, had an arc rating of 70 calories per square centimetre but were found to have no arc rating at all.

The claimed safety of its jackets were made on garment tags, in marketing emails, on its website and in a guide distributed to contractors.


The Commerce Commission said the claims were serious, despite only 12 jackets being supplied.

"Customers are entitled to rely upon the accuracy of information provided to them about the products that they buy and this was especially important for a product that may be used for personal protection at work," Commissioner Anna Rawlings said.

In the sentencing, judge Mary-Beth Sharp said Argyle's offending was "highly careless if not grossly negligent."

Sharp said its claims had the potential to cause "huge" harm in the event of an electrical fire.

"Fortunately a small number of products were supplied, most have been retrieved and no harm has been done," she said.

The Commerce Commission first alerted Argyle to its concerns in May 2016. The company then removed the jackets from sale and undertook a voluntary recall.

Nine jackets were recalled and customers were refunded.

Argyle CEO Craig Broomhall told the Herald his company did not make the jackets it sold and was misled by a manufacturer.

He would not name the company or say if he intended to take legal action against it.

"This isolated issue has galvanised us as a business to do better and to support our team more and improve our processes and support our customers."

He said he commissioned independent testing on the jackets as soon as the issue was brought to his attention by the Commerce Commission.

"Certification and reports on the safety standards of products can now be made available to our customers on request."