Imported products are a major source of safety concerns. In fiscal year 2007, they accounted for more than 80 percent of the consumer product recalls announced by the CPSC. In response, the agency began placing investigators at key ports of entry on a full time basis, and in 2010 and 2011, more than 6.5 million units were stopped from ever entering the country.
Now, the CPSC is rolling out another initiative regarding imported products. In late August, the agency voted to launch a pilot electronic filing program aimed at further enhancing CPSC surveillance efforts. Conducted jointly with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the system will require importers to file five data elements related to their products, including:
Under the current system, the CPSC receives certificates through an online system, via email, or through paper certificates placed inside shipping containers.
The e-filing pilot is scheduled to begin in July 2016 and run for approximately six months. The CPSC is currently seeking volunteers to participate in the program, and will use their feedback and experiences in the development of formalized regulation.
This is an industry development to keep an eye on as recruitment efforts ramp up and the pilot gets underway. It’s possible the program will help the CPSC identify weak links in the supply chain. For example, are specific product safety issues originating more frequently in specific geographic areas? Are multiple manufacturers relying on components from a supplier that lacks proper safety protocols and standards?
Having easily accessible data on imports could help the CPSC answer these and other questions. While we need to wait until the pilot launches to know for certain, one thing is clear: the e-filing program further reinforces the CPSCs increased regulatory focus on consumer safety. In this environment of heightened awareness, it’s vital that manufacturers pay close attention to these changes.
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