Regulatory Developments

CPSC Requests Comments on Possible Improvements to SaferProducts.gov, Will Hold Public Hearing

February 11, 2019

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a Federal Register notice on February 11, 2019, announcing that it will hold a public hearing to receive information from interested parties about possible changes to www.SaferProducts.gov, CPSC’s Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database, to improve the website’s usefulness and ease of use. 84 Fed. Reg. 3134. CPSC also requests written comments on possible improvements. The public hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. (EST) on March 6, 2019. The Division of the Secretariat must receive requests to make oral presentations, along with the written text of oral presentations, no later than February 20, 2019. Written comments are due April 3, 2019.

Background

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) requires CPSC to establish and maintain a database on the safety of consumer products, and other products or substances CPSC regulates, that is publicly available, searchable, and accessible through CPSC’s website. CPSIA includes specific content, procedural, and search requirements for the database. In 2010, CPSC issued regulations regarding the database in 16 C.F.R. Part 1102, and in 2011, Congress added additional requirements to the database provisions.

To comply with these requirements, CPSC created the website www.SaferProducts.gov. The website allows consumers and others to submit reports of harm relating to the use of consumer products, and other products or substances CPSC regulates; allows businesses to comment on such reports; and allows users to search the database for product recalls and reports of harm that are published on www.SaferProducts.gov. More information is available in our March 14, 2011, memorandum, “CPSC Announces Launch of Consumer Product Safety Information Database.”

Request for Information

CPSC states that it is considering improvements to www.SaferProducts.gov to make the website easier to understand, navigate, and interact with, as well as more useful for submitting and obtaining desired information. CPSC seeks stakeholders’ recommendations on possible improvements, and intends to use the information it receives to determine how to update and upgrade the website. According to the notice, CPSC is particularly interested in information about how the website could be more user-friendly, and possible modifications to make the searching, reporting, and commenting tools more useful.

CPSC requests comments and suggestions to improve the usability of the website. In particular, CPSC seeks comments on the following topics:

  1. How can the overall design of SaferProducts.gov be improved?
     
  2. Have you attempted to visit SaferProducts.gov using a mobile device? What suggestions would you have to make that experience better?
     
  3. Please describe any problems you encountered when using SaferProducts.gov. Please be as specific as possible.
     
  4. How can the process of reporting on SaferProducts.gov be improved?
     
  5. How can the instructions for submitting a report be improved?
     
  6. Business users: How can the processes of registering, accessing, and responding to reports of products or other substances CPSC regulates on SaferProducts.gov be improved?
     
  7. How can searching for recalls and reports on the website be improved?
     
  8. What other information would be useful to publish or provide with the recall and incident report data?
     
  9. Have you encountered any difficulty attempting to upload photos or videos with a report you may have submitted? Please describe what happened.
     
  10. If CPSC were to create a data visualization tool to help consumers and businesses better understand the data captured through SaferProducts.gov, would that kind of tool be useful to you?
     
  11. Currently, submitters of information to the website must check a box to consent to CPSC publishing their report on the website. CPSC is exploring whether this extra step in the submission process may decrease the number of published reports. CPSC is considering whether to move to a pre-checked box where permission to publish is granted by the submitter automatically unless the submitter explicitly opts out by checking a box. CPSC staff believes this could increase the number of published reports and increase awareness of potentially unsafe products. The reports that CPSC publishes on Saferproducts.gov are prohibited by law from including personal information, such as name, address, and contact information. Do you have suggestions or concerns about making this change?
     
  12. Given the growth of online retail sales since the launch of SaferProducts.gov and that online retail sales platforms usually include an ability for consumers to provide a product rating or other feedback, how might CPSC motivate the provision of safety-related feedback to SaferProducts.gov as a primary, or at least additional, mechanism for capturing information on consumer product-related incidents?
     
  13. How can CPSC encourage the use of SaferProducts.gov among eligible reporters other than consumers, such as physicians, medical examiners, and first responders?
     

Commentary

CPSC is specifically seeking comment from business users on how the processes of registering, accessing, and responding to reports of products or other substances that CPSC regulates on SaferProducts.gov can be improved. As reported in our earlier memorandum, CPSC reviews all reports submitted online, and, within five business days, transmits qualifying reports to the manufacturer or private labeler. CPSC posts reports that contain the minimum required information ten business days after sending a copy of the report to the manufacturer or private labeler. A manufacturer or private labeler that receives a report may submit a comment in response to the report at any time. If a business wants its comment to appear in the Database at the same time as the report, it must submit it to the CPSC with sufficient time for review before the report is published in the Database. At the end of the ten business-day period, CPSC will post the report, along with any comments from the manufacturer, to the Database. This comment period provides business users the opportunity to offer suggestions on how to improve SaferProducts.gov. Stakeholders with interests in this area are urged to comment as appropriate.


 
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