The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has established a publicly available consumer product safety information database that could have a direct and immediate impact on consumer goods manufacturers. The public database, found on www.saferproducts.gov, provides consumers with the ability to search consumer “reports of harm,” recall notices, and other information that the CPSC determines to be in the public interest.
The database allows consumers to submit reports of harm or risks of harm (Reports) involving consumer products. Those submitting Reports on the database are asked to provide details about the harm or risk of harm related to the consumer product. After undergoing a cursory screening by the CPSC, the Reports are made available to the public on the database.
A manufacturer that receives a copy of a Report from the CPSC may comment on the Report and can choose whether to have its comments published online along with the Report. A manufacturer also can object to the publication of a Report that contains confidential or materially-inaccurate information.
A manufacturer may register on the Web site to receive email notification when a Report is received. If a manufacturer is not registered, the CPSC will send a Report to it through the mail.
The database went live on March 11, 2011 with product recall notices only. Consumer Reports are expected to go public in April 2011.
Report and Comment Timing and Process
The CPSC has established a relatively short period of time between when a Report is submitted and when the Report is posted on the database. The timeline is as follows:
A manufacturer may submit a comment in response to a Report at any time. However, if a manufacturer wants its comments to appear on the database at the same time as the consumer’s Report, it must comment within a sufficient period of time, prior to the publication date, to allow the CPSC to review the comments.
Comments are optional, but, in many cases, it will be in the manufacturer’s best interest to file a comment that will be posted along with the consumer’s Report. The primary benefits of filing a comment include:
What You Can Do Right Now
Prior to this rule, consumers did not have product safety information immediately available or in a searchable format. The extent to which this new rule will affect manufacturers is unknown, but we suggest taking the following actions:
Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and colleagues.
If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss the topic further, please contact your Foley attorney or the following individuals:
Robert J. Vechiola
Jacob D. Babcock