Mum hits out at delays to Kmart safety rollout after son injured
A Victorian mum has questioned why retail giant Kmart is yet to fully implement promised safety improvements after her son was injured by a clothing rack hook.
Kirsty Colbert was shopping with her four-year-old son Alexander at Kmart's Delecombe store last Tuesday when the accident happened.
Kmart is in the process of attaching plastic covers to the hooks nationally but say there had been some delays due to COVID-19 border closures, although the rollout was still proceeding relatively to plan.
"We were just walking around Kmart and he looked away for a second from where he was walking. The next minute he turned around and walked straight into the metal hook," she said.
Ms Colbert said her son was left with a nasty cut, bruise and swelling where the hook hit his face just above his ear.
"There was blood all on the side of his face," she said.
Ms Colbert said the scary thing was how easily the accident happened.
"It was not like he was being silly, or running or anything. Those hooks are really dangerous and sharp," she said.
WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW
Last year, nine.com.au published a series of articles detailing the cases of several children who suffered horrific eye injuries after colliding with the same clothing hooks at Kmart and Target stores.
The hooks are used industry wide and often placed at the eye level of toddlers.
Those injured include six-year-old Cecilia Chan who almost lost her eye and needed two surgeries after colliding with one of the hooks while shopping with her grandmother at a Kmart store in Chatswood, Sydney.
Weeks before Cecilia's accident, five-year-old Saad was impaled in his eye socket by a hook at Target's Parramatta store in Sydney.
After nine.com.au's investigation, Kmart and Target – both owned by Wesfarmers – conducted a safety review and promised to install plastic covers on all apparel arm hooks at Australian and New Zealand stores.
The roll-out was due to be completed by early this year and involved altering 1.2 million apparel hooks at Kmart stores and 900,000 in Target stores.
A Kmart spokesperson said there had been some delays due to border closures but the rollout was still proceeding relatively to plan.
The plastic covers have not yet been installed on hooks at the Delecombe store where Ms Colbert's son was injured.
Ms Colbert said she was horrified to hear about the serious injuries other children had suffered.
"That is the exact same hook that has caused all of these injuries. They should have removed those hooks as soon as this happened," Ms Colbert said.
"Why were they left here when they know the risk and why are they still like it today?"
The Kmart spokesperson said customer safety was the company's "highest priority".
"We were sorry to learn of the recent injury suffered by a child in our Delecombe store on an apparel arm," he spokesperson said.
"While we are glad the injury wasn't more severe, this reinforces the potential safety risk around these arms and is why we are currently rolling out plastic caps across all apparel arms in our stores in Australia and New Zealand."
Contact reporter Emily McPherson at [email protected]