CPSC Reveals Top 10 Reported Products
On the eve of its product safety database's one-year anniversary, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has released its list of the 10 most-reported product categories.
SaferProducts.gov, which went live on March 11, 2011, collects and publishes consumer complaints of injury or potential injury. The site has received more than 6,600 reports of dangerous products since it launched, and now the CPSC has published a blog post detailing the most common products submitted over the past year.
The 10 most-reported product categories are:
- Electric ranges and ovens (9.7 percent of all reports)
- Dishwashers (6.7 percent)
- Footwear (4.5 percent)
- Refrigerators (4.2 percent)
- Microwave Ovens (2.9 percent)
- Light Bulbs (2.5 percent)
- Gas Ranges (2.2 percent)
- Electric coffee makers or tea pots (2.2 percent)
- Cribs (2.0 percent)
- Non-metal cookwear (1.7 percent)
There are a few suppliers who make footwear, and a smattering of coffee makers and cookwear available, but for the most part almost nothing on the list is typically used as a promotional product. So we're in the clear, right?
It's not quite that simple. Ignoring the fact everything can be imprinted, the CPSC's list is not comprehensively representative. Even though ovens make up the largest single type at 9.7 percent, over one-third of all reports (36 percent) involve kitchen appliances. When viewed as broad categories, we see reasons to remain vigilant.
Take, for example, children's products. With the exception of cribs, they are strangely absent from the list. At first glance this seems to indicate that the panic over children's safety is overstated. However, as reported by CNN, 4.5 percent of all complaints filed in 2011 were for toys.
This statistic doesn't appear on the CPSC's list because not all toys fit under one product header, like "dishwashers" or "light bulbs." In reality, there have been nearly 300 complaints for children's toys in total, with 200 published on the site for all to see. (Anonymous complaints are not published.) That means children's toys, in aggregate, are tied with footwear as the third most-reported product category.
The 4.5 percent for toys doesn't take into consideration all the non-toy children's products, like cribs, sippy cups and apparel, also submitted to the site. And as we all know, thanks to CPSIA, "children's products" casts a wide net. Drinkware (plastic content), apparel (choking hazards) and bags (choking hazards) are all promotional products that could lead to injury and that, depending on the imprint, could be considered "primarily intended for children."
When you take into consideration all possible products, like the 8 percent of complaints for nursery items, over 10 percent of submissions have been for children's items. That's more than 660 complaints, and that means more attention, more scrutiny, and more risk for suppliers and distributors. It doesn't matter if it's not your logoed sippy cup that gets reported and appears on the news; it only takes one complaint to create a panic and jeopardize everyone's business.
How do you keep yourself safe from SaferProducts.gov? It's easy: sell compliant and certified products. Make sure the suppliers you source from are ones you trust. QCA-certified suppliers are a good option, but no matter where you look for products, make sure they have the proper testing certificates, as well as supply chain and factory audits.
No matter how innocuous an item, people will always find a way to hurt themselves; remind me to tell you about the time an umbrella sent me to the emergency room. (Actually, don't remind me.) You can't completely shield yourself from product liability, but you can do everything in your power to make injuries and complaints as unlikely as possible. Working with the right suppliers is a good place to start.