Compliance is Not Enough for Safe Promotional Products
If attendance at ICPHSO's 2012 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium is any indication, then the promotional products industry should feel proud of the strides it is making in product safety awareness. From scant industry attendance just four years ago, this year's symposium, held earlier this month in Orlando, had strong participation by PPAI, by QCA, and by at least a dozen major promotional products suppliers and distributors. But while progress is encouraging, the workshops at ICPHSO made clear that product safety is much more than test reports and CPSIA compliance.
ICPHSO is an acronym for the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization. It is the preeminent international product safety organization and is comprised of accomplished compliance professionals from all over the world—manufacturers, retailers, government regulators, attorneys, testing labs, standards developers, academia and consumer advocates. Chances are, if you're selling promotional products to a major corporation, its product safety team participates in ICPHSO. More than 600 attendees made the pilgrimage to Orlando this year to share their knowledge, to learn from their peers, to network with like-minded colleagues and to mingle with government regulators from countries around the globe.
This year's major topic was manufacturing and the challenges of producing safe and compliant products consistently in factories all over the world. Traceability and supply chain transparency was a common theme in several presentations. It was comforting to hear that even the largest companies struggle with this issue just as many importers do in our industry. Jennifer Weaver, Director of Quality Assurance at Under Armour, noted that while she closely supervises Under Armour's factories, her company does not even attempt to trace production from suppliers of items such as buttons, zippers and seams. The consensus seemed to be that each manufacturer/importer must develop a plan based on a risk assessment of its own particular products.