By Chris Harvey – VP, crisis solution; Amanda Combs – recall consultant; and Matt Walker – business development director
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) took a more aggressive enforcement stance in 2022, making it clear that companies needed to report any safety issues promptly or risk legal actions and steep fines. That approach is has continued in 2023 with the Commission recently announcing that a major exercise equipment brand had agreed to pay a $19 million civil penalty.
The CPSC’s mission is to “save lives and keep families safe by reducing the unreasonable risk of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products”. That is no small task when there are 55,000 annual deaths and 30 million annual injuries reported in the U.S., according to the agency.
At this year’s International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) Annual Meeting in Orlando last week, the CPSC shared updates with attendees as well as its plans for the year ahead.
In 2022, the Commission passed final rules on magnets, clothing storage units, and stock and custom window covering. It also released proposed rules on adult portable bed rails and general wearing apparel and was able to screen more than 62,000 different imported consumer products at ports of entry.
The Commission has also been proactive about resuming inspections. As they reported at ICPHSO’s Annual Meeting last week, in 2022, the CPSC inspected 975 establishments and issued almost 3,500 violation notices. A total of 57,000 units of consumer products were removed from eCommerce sites and Commissioners have issued five civil penalties totaling $31 million. When it comes to recalls, the number of consumer product recalls increased 32% in 2022 over 2021 numbers. The Commission also reported a total of 250 voluntary recalls and 4,400 in-depth investigations.
It is clear that the CPSC is also going to continue to use media and public channels to call-out bad actors and provide safety information to the public. In its presentation at ICPHSO, it shared that its recall announcements garnered 1 billion impressions and its safety education campaigns and social media posts earned 100 million and 14 million impressions respectively.
Through its actions in 2022, the Commission showed how it would use press releases and other channels to get companies to take action.
Looking ahead at 2023
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of consumer products should take note of all of CPSC’s movements, because they serve as a guide to how the agency may interpret and enforce businesses’ responsibilities to consumers in the future. This is a sign of a broader trend toward stricter enforcement and less tolerance for businesses that the Commission believes have not complied with regulatory requirements.
The agency is already working on final rules regarding adult portable bed rails, off highway vehicles, table saws and general wearing apparel, and are drafting proposed rules on portable generators, furnaces, button cell batteries, bassinets, and nursing pillows.
Navigating all these regulations and rules is challenging for any business, so it is important to utilize all the resources available. This may necessitate engaging third-party experts in recall logistics, insurance, regulatory compliance, class action litigation, and brand protection.
There are many other resources available, including our upcoming 2023 State of the Nation Recall Index report, where we dive into regulatory trends across five industries, including consumer products. Our brand protection experts (Chris Harvey, Amanda Combs, and Matt Walker) will be previewing the report and its insights during a webinar on March 1. Register to join us for our State of the Nation Recall Index webinar and receive an exclusive edition of our latest report here.
Register now to join us for our State of the Nation Recall Index webinar and receive an exclusive edition of our latest report.