In May 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a proposed rule to establish a Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database. The database, which will be populated by consumer-submitted “reports of harm” on alleged incidents or risks of injury, illness, or death resulting from the use of a consumer product, was mandated by Congress and is expected to “go live” at SaferProducts.gov in March 2011. CPSC accepted public comments on the proposed rule through July 23, 2010.
The laudable objective of the proposed public database is to become a repository of information important to public safety and public policy for the protection of consumers. And while the database likely will contain useful information to assist consumers in making decisions about the products they purchase and use, it could just as easily become a tool for excessive reporting of unsubstantiated and uninvestigated reports of harm.
NEMA submitted comments on the proposed rule last Friday. Here is a sampling of some of the viewpoints presented by NEMA:
- Misuse and abuse of the database seems inevitable. Additional precautions against miuse and abuse are appropriate.
- CPSC staff that are responsbile for evaluating whether reports of harm contain materially inaccurate information should have expertise in the product area.
- The proposed rule does not address how CPSC will ensure that reports of harm do not include reports involving counterfeit products.