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Product safety takes a big step forward

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently approved a Final Rule that will establish a publicly accessible consumer product safety complaint database. Manufacturers will no longer control the flow of information about their products; consumers will now be able to report their own complaints and research others via a web interface for the first time since the commission’s creation. The web interface is expected by spring. The CPSC vote was 3-2. The vote represents a huge victory for consumers and supporters of open government against unsafe products. It will provide the public access to critical product safety information that the CPSC was previously required to keep behind closed doors.

The CPSC database will contain reports of harm, manufacturer comments on the reports, recall information, and any additional information the commission feels is in the public interest. The database is open to any member of the public who would have knowledge of an alleged product-based injury or wrongful death, including health professionals, lawyers, public safety officials, and child care providers. A mock-up of the reporting scenario which the CPSC has presented in the past asks the submitter for information about the harm, the product, and the victim. It also asks for contact information, a description, and date of the incident, the category of submitter, and the type of incident. Incomplete incident reports are excluded from the public database. These will include those that do not contain an identifiable consumer product, manufacturer, or private labeler, a description of the harm, intrusive photographs, medical records without consent, and reports by minors without a parent or guardian’s consent.

Learn more about the new database at SaferProducts.gov.

Read more about toy-related injuries here.