Compliance & Risks attended the ICPHSO International Product Safety conference at the European Commission in Brussels earlier this month. ICPHSO is the international consumer product safety organisation and though based in the US, brings together international regulators, policy makers, product manufacturers and industry experts for discussions about how product safety regulations are evolving.
The conference gives us a chance to meet current and prospective clients face to face and also to meet and listen to the regulators and officials that write the laws and standards that we communicate to our clients via our compliance management platform, C2P and our Market Access service.
Some of the industry associations present include the Toy Industry Association (US and EU). Stacey, our Market Access Manager, contributes to the formation of policies and guidelines at the TIA and other industry associations in the US such as the AAFA (American Apparel and Footwear Association) so we are very much involved at an early stage of discovering how regulations and safety concerns will impact on our clients.
The conference covered a multitude of product safety related topics, including proposed changes to existing regulations, and communicating with a new breed of consumers for important recall information. (Millennials have the online attention span of a fairly lax goldfish, so be witty yet genuine and honest, and your recall notice can go viral!)
We also considered the implications of online shopping on ensuring product safety. Importers and manufacturers are traditionally the responsible party when placing products on the market. With the proliferation of online shopping capabilities, the purchaser may be considered the importer. This may cause difficulties in ensuring that products are safe when they arrive to the consumer, as there is no responsible party in between the seller and the consumer.
Remember that the products that you purchase are not routinely tested by a national government or by the European Commission, most are subject to the manufacturer’s own compliance certification and that the CE mark is a testament to that process, and not a “safety mark” per se. Market surveillance by the national authorities to ensure safety of products placed on the market is limited by the number and range of products that can be feasibly checked.
The IFIA (International Federation of Inspection Agencies) published a recent report that compared the systems of self-certification versus third party testing and certification. According to the report only 0.3% of products entering the EU are inspected by market surveillance authorities. And some 12,000 house fires in the UK during the period 2011-2014 were due to faulty home products.
Consumers are urged, particularly at this time of year, to buy from reputable brands whether online or in-store. Product manufacturers must therefore remain vigilant that they are maintaining the highest quality standards of product compliance to ensure that customers are rewarded for their loyalty. Is the potential risk to your brand worth skimping on compliance?
If you would like to see how you can better monitor and manager your product compliance requirements, why not sign up for free demo/trial of c2p, our compliance knowledge management platform?