Manufacturers, distributors, importers, and retailers ("firms" or individually "firm") must report a potentially hazardous product to the CPSC immediately, according to section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2064(b). Firms must immediately report to the CPSC if they obtain information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a product fails to meet a consumer product safety rule, standard, or ban, contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, or creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.
As a general rule, firms must report to the CPSC within 24 hours of obtaining the information described above. Firms should not delay reporting in order to determine with certainty whether a report is required. Firms should report potential hazards and risks even if they are investigating a matter. If a firm is uncertain whether information must be reported, it may spend a reasonable amount of time investigating the matter. A firm usually should not spend more than 10 business days on an investigation before reporting.
What kind of information could lead to a report?
Any information obtained by a firm indicating a defect, a violation of a safety rule, or an unreasonable risk, could lead to a report. This information may be in the form of quality control data, product returns, warranty information, customer complaints, lawsuits, or any other information suggesting a product safety problem. Firms should have a system in place to make sure this kind of information is captured and channeled to responsible persons within the firm so they may evaluate it and report if appropriate.
How will the CPSC evaluate our handling of safety information?
In evaluating when a firm should have reported, the CPSC considers what a firm actually knew about the potential hazard posed by the product and what a reasonable person or firm acting in the circumstances would have known. The CPSC will deem a firm to know what it would have known if it had exercised due care in investigating the matter. Firms that are not responsible and informed about the safety of their products run great risk of future civil penalty liability.
The Recall Handbook (pdf) will also familiarize firms with the reporting requirements. The CPSC's regulations found at 16 C.F.R. Part 1115, titled Substantial Product Hazard Reports, further explain firms' obligations and the CPSC's requirements.