One phrase you see frequently around airports, train stations and other public transport areas is: “If You See Something, Say Something.” This is a phrase designed to alert and protect. Law enforcement and security teams urge people to pay attention and assist them by reporting suspicious activity.
A customer review serves a similar purpose. Consumers are increasingly prone to review products and services they purchase and these reviews usually impact buying decisions. It’s a good idea to share what you know based on your experience to save other people from potential unsafe activity.
What about consumer products you know that are unsafe? How do you “say something” and to whom? Where do you find information if you want to learn about risk factors associated with the product you are buying?
The good news is that there is a excellent resource. Part of my mission here is to make sure people know about it. Mandated as part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, the Safer Products initiative was created to serve as a publicly available database allowing anyone to search consumer products and learn about associated risk factors.
Anyone can report unsafe products through the Safer Products initiative. Whether you are a consumer, child-service provider, health-care professional, government official or involved in public safety, you can submit incident reports involving harm caused by a consumer product. All the submitted information is used to create a database of valuable information available to anyone to access.
After a report is made, manufacturers which, in our industry, include importers of record, and private labeler manufacturers who are identified, receive a copy of the report. Those suppliers then comment on them. Completed reports and manufacturer comments are published online in the database at saferproducts.gov.
One of the limitations of the concept “If You See Something, Say Something” is whether or not the individual making the report is able to remain anonymous.
When a report is made to the saferproducts.gov website, the process does require an individual to supply contact information. This is necessary to enable the CPSC to be able to follow up or clarify details of your report. The good news is that prior to the report being released to the supplier, the individual filing the report is offered the choice to prevent his or her name and contact information being shared.
If the individual decides to share their contact information as part of the report, suppliers can then contact the person to learn more in order to help them improve their product.
Either way, individual contact information is never made public on saferproducts.gov and that is a good thing.
So the next time you see something that could be a fire or electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard, you now know about saferproducts.gov as a resource to get your voice heard.
If you’d like to read more, please check out Jeff's column at Promo Marketing Blog.
Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for more than 30 years. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He is the executive director of Quality Certification Alliance, the industry’s only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant products. Follow Jeff on Twitter, or reach out to him at [email protected].