United States: Five Key Takeaways From ICPHSO Annual Product Safety Symposium, Washington 2019

Last Updated: May 21 2019
Article by Carol Roberts

The ICPHSO annual Product Safety symposium took place in Washington DC last week, with a record number of attendees. The Cooley team was there in full force and is pleased to bring you a round-up of some of the highlights.

Regulator insights

ICPHSO is well known for bringing all stakeholders together in the shared goal of helping ensure consumers can be confident in the safety of the products available to them. A regular and unique feature at ICPHSO conferences is the global regulators panel, and, especially in Washington DC, insights from representatives of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

There are a number of important points that came out of these discussions this year:

  • Regulators around the world are more joined up than ever before and the Australian regulator flagged that they discuss how to identify issues that affect consumers across the world; they don't just think specifically about issues that are particular to their local markets. The CPSC commented that the possibility of joint recall actions beyond North America are likely to be on the horizon.
  • Regulators are increasingly keen to innovate themselves to facilitate better engagement, compliance and enforcement – for example the CPSC gave a run through of their updated "Regulatory Robot" and the OPSS (UK regulator) referenced the new Code of Practice for Recalls (PAS 7100) that was published last year and is the first of its kind.
  • Regulators, at least in some countries, encourage dialogue – speaking to a regulator does not have to, and often does not, mean that you'll be required to recall a product. The CPSC in particular urged "if in doubt – report", commenting that 85% of reports do not lead to a recall.
  • Regulators are increasingly focussed on e-commerce; although one speaker from the CPSC indicated that there is some acceptance that responsibility can also lie with the consumer with e.g. counterfeits sold online.

It was clear that regulators participating in this event recognised that they do not regulate in a vacuum. In particular, regulators do look to industry for information when it comes to innovative products: and this is an opportunity for industry to step up.

New technologies

A key theme across the week was the management of safety in the context of new technologies. Cooley's Sarah-Jane Dobson spoke at an Associated Meeting to discuss developing a safety process standard or guidance that would provide innovators with a process for determining the appropriate safety criteria for their innovative product or innovative feature(s) of more traditional products. Another session highlighted the advancements in virtual reality that can be used to simulate how a product safety issue could have occurred, for example it can be used to recreate and then safely replay and manipulate the scenario that has occurred in an effort to identify the series of events that led to a failure or safety incident.

Professionals across the board are alive to the potential benefits of new technology. Whether that's through the multitude of benefits to consumers of more innovative technology to technology being used to improve recall uptake or analyse data on product safety incidents. However, the risks of these technologies were also not forgotten, with much discussion on the risks of bias in AI and the interrelation with data privacy and security issues that evermore connected products bring.

International alignment

The conference was, as always, a hub for discussion on an international level. A recurring question was why harmonisation of product safety standards and requirements has been so hard to achieve globally. Cooley's Claire Temple led a session on exactly this topic, discussing the reasons why international harmonisation of standards has been, at times, so elusive historically. Although there appears to be a consensus that harmonisation would bring benefits to consumers, industries, regulators, developing economies and emerging technologies, the difficulties (including those of a political nature) can be difficult to surmount. Ultimately, the panel suggested we can be guardedly optimistic about achieving alignment, rather than harmonisation – particularly in the context of new technologies, as standards are developed. The message was ultimately that although complete alignment may not be possible, that is no reason not to strive to achieve it even in part.

One way to do this could be to look to other industries, and how they've handled product safety incidents. Rod Freeman spoke on a panel that identified examples of where consumer safety has been enhanced when industries look to lessons that can be learned from experiences in other industries. This is a discussion that we expect will be continued in future ICPHSO meetings.

Internal compliance processes

Discussions also looked "inwards" – what do companies need to be thinking about internally to ensure consumer product safety.

One discussion was around the role of the compliance officer (hero or villain?). Speakers highlighted how the strains of this role, for example meeting the pressure to get to market or the perception of being a 'blocker', can soon be turned into positives if compliance officers seek to be true partners to their business teams – helping them to look around corners. The most important message? Be realistic about what can be achieved and what must be done. The importance of communication, planning, learning and training cannot be emphasised enough.

A safety programme is also a core process. This is more than just product safety but must also take into account impact of recalls, government penalties, increased operational costs, liability, reputational risks, lost sales, and the importance of social responsibility. Companies must consider the full cycle of pre- and post-sale responsibilities. And although there's no one size fits all approach – a company organisation as well as management buy-in is key to a successful safety procedure.

Diversity and inclusion

There's also an emerging discussion around diversity and inclusion. Cooley's Carol Roberts, in her capacity as leader of the ICPHSO diversity and inclusion initiative, together with ICPHSO's President Belinda May, spoke about the importance of this continued focus in ensuring consumer product safety in an innovative world, revisiting examples of successes and failures in product safety from a diversity and inclusion perspective that were discussed during ICPHSO's 2018 International Symposium in Brussels.

CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler gave a keynote on product safety issues that disproportionately affect the elderly. As a group seeing a huge demographic growth, this is expected to be a CPSC focus going forward. A plenary session then looked at the elderly population, including use of customer review data, examples of changes to products that take into account the needs of the elderly and key concerns to that particular demographic group.

We expect that this conversation around diversity and inclusion will continue and that it will lead to thought-leadership and innovative solutions within the products world.

ICPHSO International Symposium 2019 – Dublin

During the event, Rod Freeman, as ICPHSO's newly appointed Chair of International Programs, announced that arrangements are being finalised for ICPHSO's International Symposium to be held this year at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Make sure you save the likely dates (24th and 25th October) and start to plan to be in Ireland for what will be a couple of days of great discussions and networking for the international product safety community. The venue and dates should be confirmed shortly.

If you'd like any more information about the ICPHSO activities – please do get in touch with one of the Cooley team and we'd be happy to help.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions