Compliance is Not Enough for Safe Promotional Products
So given practical and realistic resources of most companies in the promotional products industry, what can importers do to ensure that the products we are selling are not only compliant but also truly safe? Here is a good starting list:
1) Appoint someone in your company as product safety lead. Send that person to product safety training such as a class offered by a major testing lab or the Certificate in Product Safety Management program offered by Saint Louis University. Your designee should develop and implement a risk assessment process, maintain your product safety documentation and act as the point person if your company is ever involved in a recall. Once these basic processes are in place, take the initiative to the next level. Develop a comprehensive quality manual for all of your supply chain standard operating procedures and also develop a recall preparedness plan.
2) As a supplier, manufacturer or importer, perform a basic risk assessment before adding any product to your line or before ordering it for your customer. Even without independent testing, much can be done to minimize risk and promote safety. Evaluate how well the product is constructed, the quality of materials, whether it will shatter when dropped, if it has sharp edges, choke or bite hazards as well as other foreseeable risks. Obtain a bill of materials for the product and identify any potentially hazardous materials or components. Subject the product to reasonable use and abuse testing even if you have to test it yourself and be sure to consider the foreseeable misuse of the product, particularly by children.
3) Test the product to simulate how well it performs. If it is a bag, for example, how much weight will it bear reliably before the fabric, seams or straps give way. Are there embellishments like buttons, grommets, labels, labels or hooks? If so, how securely are they fastened? If they break off will any sharp edges remain? Is there any chrome or electroplating? Is the quality high enough that it won't peel or curl leaving knife like edges?