The Consumer Product Safety Commission is proposing rule changes that would allow manufacturers, distributors and retailers to consider more factors in deciding whether to report safety problems associated with products.
The proposal, published May 26 in the Federal Register, would change the agency’s so-called interpretive rule adopted in 1978, which gives companies guidance on how to comply with the law’s requirement to report potentially unsafe products.
The proposal’s three main revisions would:
The CPSC says the revisions are designed to provide “further guidance, clarity and transparency” on the reporting obligations under the Consumer Product Safety Act and are “not intended to reduce the volume of reporting.”
Nevertheless, CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore is a critic of the proposal. Moore issued a statement on the agency’s Web site calling the proposed revisions an apparent response to industry “overtures.” He said the changes could create a “safe harbor” for companies to avoid penalties for failing to report unsafe products under the federal Consumer Product Safety Act
“For products that have the potential to kill or cause serious injury, there can never be so few left on the market that we would not require a recall,” he wrote.
Companies that fail to report can face civil penalties. In fiscal 2005, six companies paid $8.8 million in penalties for failing to report in a timely manner dangerous or defective products.
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