By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on April 12, 2021, that it will hold a public webinar on April 28, 2021, to receive information from interested parties about updates CPSC is making to www.SaferProducts.gov/Business for reports filed electronically under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). 86 Fed. Reg. 18966. The presentation will focus on Section 15(b) reporting for the purposes of entering the Fast Track Recall Program. Webinar participants will have an opportunity to see the improvements to www.SaferProducts.gov/Business and provide feedback to CPSC through a moderated discussion. CPSC states that it would like to hear from manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that have participated in the Fast Track Recall Program, including those who use www.SaferProducts.gov/Business to report potentially defective or hazardous products to CPSC. The goal of the webinar is to receive feedback on these updates and to assess the impact, if any, that the improvements will have on the website’s utility and usability and the Fast Track Recall Program.
CPSA Section 15(b) requires every manufacturer of a consumer product, or other product or substance over which CPSC has jurisdiction, distributed in commerce, and every distributor or retailer of such product, to report immediately when it obtains certain information. Such reporting is required when manufacturers, distributors, or retailers obtain information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a product:
- Fails to comply with an applicable consumer product safety rule or with a voluntary consumer product safety standard that CPSC relied on under CPSA Section 9;
- Fails to comply with any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban under the CPSA or any other act CPSC enforces;
- Contains a defect that could create a substantial product hazard (i.e., a product defect that (because of the pattern of defect, the number of defective products distributed in commerce, the severity of the risk, or otherwise) creates a substantial risk of injury to the public); or
- Creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.
This reporting is required unless the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer has actual knowledge that CPSC has been adequately informed of such defect, such failure to comply, or such risk. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can submit Section 15(b) reports to CPSC at www.SaferProducts.gov/Business. When submitting a Section 15(b) report through www.SaferProducts.gov/Business, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers may elect to participate in the Fast Track Recall Program, which is an alternative procedure for recalling products reported under CPSA Section 15(b).
By Lynn L. Bergeson , Lisa M. Campbell, and Carla N. Hutton
Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, wrote to Amazon Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chair Jeff Bezos on October 7, 2020, requesting that he launch an investigation into the safety of Amazon’s product line, AmazonBasics, and answer a series of questions pertaining to the company’s product safety and recall practices. The Committee’s October 7, 2020, press release notes that the request comes after a CNN investigation found that many of AmazonBasics’ electronic products “have exploded, caught fire, sparked, melted, or otherwise created hazardous situations at rates well above comparable products.” According to the press release, many of these products were never recalled and continue to be sold.
In addition to their request that Bezos initiate an investigation into the safety of AmazonBasics products, Pallone and Schakowsky also seek answers to a series of questions, including:
- What Amazon-owned products are no longer for sale due at least in part to safety concerns?
- What products -- both Amazon-owned and third party -- have been officially recalled?
- What notification does Amazon provide to customers who have purchased products that are later recalled or found to be unsafe?
- In addition to direct notification, what other kinds of consumer or public outreach does Amazon conduct to ensure consumers properly dispose of, repair, or replace an unsafe product?
- How can consumers find information regarding recalled products? If information is not readily available, why not, and what plans exist to make it available?
- How can consumers report product safety issues to Amazon?
- How many staff does Amazon have devoted to ensuring that products sold on its platform follow all applicable laws and regulations, and that Amazon is in compliance with obligations to notify the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when a product is suspected of being unsafe?
The letter requests a response no later than October 21, 2020.
The letter and request for answers to the questions noted above are another indication of the pressure certain Members in Congress are putting on Amazon to ensure the safety of the products the platform hosts. Amazon is under increasing scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in this regard, as reported in our February 16, 2018, and June 17, 2020, blog items, and this Congressional inquiry seems more of the same. These efforts will almost certainly cause more pressure on product manufacturers to ensure the products they offer for sale on Amazon are compliant.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will hold a public webinar on July 1, 2020, to receive information from interested parties about changes to CPSC’s Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database, www.SaferProducts.gov, that are in development to improve the website’s usefulness and navigability. CPSC states in its June 18, 2020, Federal Register notice that based, in part, on input from a March 2019 public hearing, CPSC is holding the webinar to show the changes to the website that are in development. 85 Fed. Reg. 36838. According to CPSC, these changes seek to improve usability and navigability on the website; make the website more mobile friendly with other devices, including smartphones and tablets; and improve cross-browser compatibility. Participants who register for the webinar will have an opportunity to see these changes and provide feedback to CPSC through a moderated discussion. All attendees should pre-register for the webinar.