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In March, 2011, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) new searchable “Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database” will go live at Safer Products website. After a series of consultations, the CPSC has recently published the Final Interpretative Rule for the establishment and maintenance of the database, along with public comments and CPSC responses in the Federal Register 1.

Although the “Publically Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database” (16 CFR Part 1102), will be launched on March 11, 2011 the final rules became effective on January 10, 2011.

Database to Enhance Consumer Safety on Various Levels

This unique database will enable consumers to report any safety issues or incidents that occur when using consumer products. CPSC’s goal is for the Database to become a prime source of information for consumers when making product purchase decisions. Increasing public awareness of potential hazards associated with the use of a particular consumer product is expected to significantly enhance consumer safety.

The Database will also provide private labelers and manufacturers of products for which reports of harm have been filed, the opportunity to comment on the reports submitted by consumers. As manufacturers and labelers become engaged in the process, they will be better positioned to address potential product safety issues. Furthermore, through the Database, CPSC’s ability to share information with other government agencies will be significantly enhanced, which in turn will ensure a quicker and more thorough enforcement of product safety regulations.

Concerns Related to the Database

Consumer product manufacturers and industry trade associations have raised several concerns about the new database. One such concern relates to the fact that, as per 16 CFR §1102.10(a), various entities beside consumers can file reports of harm, including: consumers’ attorneys, government agencies, health care professionals, child service providers, and public safety entities. With so many “persons” being able to file a report of harm there is a fear that some reports might be insincere, might contain ambiguous information or might be simply filed to enhance the filers’ litigation, to damage a product’s reputation or for other ulterior motives.

Furthermore, the Final Interpretive Rule does require CPSC to send a notice of a report of harm to retailers even if they are listed as the retailers of a product in question. As a result, retailers may need to change contractual agreements with suppliers to ensure that reports are passed on to them in a timely manner.

The regulation also establishes that reports of harm will be published in the database 10 business days after the company in question has been provided notice of the report of harm. This short time frame might present significant challenges to companies that want to fully investigate and respond to allegations of harm before that information is published in the Database.

Database monitoring essential for consumer industries

Manufacturers, private labelers and retailers of consumer products will need to constantly monitor the database and pay close attention to the “reports of harm” filed with the CPSC for inclusion in the database. As per 16 CFR §1102.6(b)(8), a “report of harm” is “any information regarding any injury, illness, or death, or any risk of injury, illness, or death relating to the use of a consumer product.”

Effective immediately companies can register with the CPSC to receive timely notice about any reports of harm filed against their products. This will enable companies to respond quickly to the CPSC with any comments, questions and feedback related to such reports and to evaluate products as necessary to determine whether corrective action is required.

SGS continuously monitors publicly available consumer product safety information in the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia and other major economies, and provides interested parties with the latest developments through our regular SafeGuardS publications. Updates on product safety legislation in other countries around the world can be provided upon request.

Contact:

Fred Mills-Winkler
Technical Director Toys
SGS North America Inc.
t: +1 973 575 5252 ext. 22038

The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With more than 64,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,250 offices and laboratories around the world.