The Consumer Product Safety Commission Has No Assurance That Product Defects Are Being Reported and Corrected

HRD-78-48: Published: Feb 14, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 1978.

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The Consumer Product Safety Act requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers who have information that a consumer product contains a defect or does not meet a safety standard and could create a substantial product hazard to report this fact to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Commission can order such products to be recalled, repaired, replaced, or the purchase price refunded, and it can give public notice of the hazard. When a hazard is identified, the Commission asks the firm for more information on the product and on plans to correct the hazard. The Commission staff assists in preparing plans and Commissioners approve those found acceptable.

From May 1973 through June 1977, 495 substantial product hazards had been reported to or identified by the Commission. The Commission estimated that, through June 1977, approximately 6.6 million defective products (18 percent) had been corrected. However, the Commission has no program to make sure that firms are made aware of their responsibilities to report potential hazards and, except for the definition in the act, has not further defined "substantial product hazard." As a result, industry sometimes does not know when to report hazards, and there have been inconsistencies in defining hazards within the Commission. Also, the Commission staff has not been timely in evaluating and forwarding cases to the Commissioners, and the Commission has not adequately monitored corrective action.

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