Starting in March 2011, consumers will be able to submit reports of harm caused by consumer products to a public database created by the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC").
The CPSC regulates consumer products sold in the United States including toys, furniture, clothing and accessories, electronics, sports and recreation items, containers, kitchen items, household chemicals and fuel.
The database, www.saferproducts.gov, will allow the public to post, search for, and review consumer product reports (previously available only through a Freedom of Information Act request) and manufacturers’ response to those reports.
The database was created to provide timely injury-causing-dangers information without waiting for a product recall by allowing consumers and others to submit consumer product safety reports directly to the CPSC.
Here is how it works.
Consumers log onto www.saferproducts.gov and submit a description of the product, the manufacturer’s identity, and a description of the harm caused by the product’s use.
If it meets the minimum criteria for publication, the CPSC will post the report on the database 15 business days after submission and forward a copy to the manufacturer for comment.
The manufacturer then has 10 business days to comment if it wishes to have its comments published simultaneously with the report’s posting.
Although the new CPSC database will both promote transparency and provide consumers with necessary product safety information, because anyone may submit a report, including competitors and lawyers representing claimants against the manufacturer, concerns exist that the database might unfairly damage reputations or lead to baseless litigation.