Consumer Product Recalls 101: Reporting Requirements (Part 1 of 5)

We’ve explained in earlier posts that the CPSIA increased the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall authority. This series of posts, titled Consumer Product Recalls 101 will explain what that means to manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers.

abc blocksIn this first part, I will outline self-reporting requirements. Part 2 will look examine more closely how a company can determine whether it must report under Section 15b. Part 3 will examine how the CPSC Division of Recalls and Compliance evaluates reports of potential product hazards. Part 4 will outline the various recall options. Part 5 will further examine how the CPSIA expanded CPSC recall authority and what it means for businesses participating in the consumer products industry.

First things first. What is a recall? The term “recall” can be used to refer to a variety of corrective actions required by the CPSC and can describe any repair, replacement or refund program.

Part 1: Reporting Requirements
 

Where to Find Reporting Requirements

Reporting requirements are found in Section 15(b) and Section 37 of the Consumer Product Safety Act and in Section 102 of the Child Safety Protection Act.

Self-Reporting Under CPSA Section 15(b)
 

Trigger for Reporting Requirement

The CPSC requires all manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of consumer products to notify it immediately after obtaining information which reasonably supports the conclusion that a product distributed in commerce (1) fails to meet a consumer product safety standard or ban, (2) contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard to consumers, (3) creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or (4) fails to comply with a voluntary standard upon which the CPSC has relied under the CPSIA. Likewise, companies must report upon learning that a product in commerce violates any regulations under other Acts enforced by the CPSC and may constitute product defects which could result in substantial risk of serious injury to the public or an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.

money mazeDo All Parties Really Need to Report?

Yes. However, retailers and distributors may satisfy their reporting obligation by sending a letter to manufacturer or importer of the product describing the defect, risk, or failure to comply. The letter must also be sent to the CPSC Division of Recalls and Compliance.

Where to Report

Companies should file their report with theCPSC Division of Recall and Compliance.

When to Report

Reporting is required “immediately,” which has been interpreted by the CPSC to mean within 24-hours of obtaining reportable information. When the reportable information is obtained by an employee or official of the firm who may be reasonably expected to be capable of appreciating the significance of the information, the CPSC consider the company to have received the reportable information and the clock starts to run on the company’s obligation to report.

If a company learns of potentially reportable information, the CPSC allows up to 10 working days for the company to investigate prior to reporting. In certain circumstances, the CPSC will allow additional investigation time.

Confidentiality of Reports

All reports are initially treated as confidential. In addition, companies can request that their reports remain confidential as trade secret or confidential commercial or financial information. This should be done at the time of reporting.

Reporting Settled or Adjudicated Lawsuits Under CPSA Section 37
 

Trigger for Reporting Requirement

Generally, manufacturers of consumer products must report information about settled or adjudicated lawsuits if a specific product model is the subject of at least 3 civil actions alleging that the product model was involved in death or serious bodily injury and in each suit the plaintiff prevailed or the settlement involved the manufacturer.

Where to Report

Reports must be filed in writing to the Director of Recalls and Compliance Division of Office of Compliance at the CPSC.

When to Report

Reports must be filed within 30 days after a judgment or final settlement in the last of the 3 lawsuits.

Confidentiality of Reports

Section 37 reports are confidential. The CPSC may not disclose them.

Reporting Child Choking Incidents Under Section 102 of Child Safety Protection Act
 

Trigger for Reporting Requirement

Each manufacturer distributor, retailer, and importer of products with small parts (such as marbles, small balls, and latex balloons) must report information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a child (of any age) choked on the small part and as a result the child died, suffered serious injury, ceased breathing for any length of time, or was treated by a medical professional.

Where to Report

Reports may be filed with the Division of Recalls and Compliance.

When to Report

Reports must be made within 24-hours of obtaining reportable information.

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