August 31, 2017 Articles

Reporting to the Consumer Product Safety Commission—When Does It End?

By Charles E. Joern Jr.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces consumer product safety laws, among them the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), 15 U.S.C. § 2051 et seq. The CPSC is charged with protecting the public "against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products." 15 U.S.C. § 2051 (a)(3). To achieve this goal, section 15(b) of the CPSA requires manufacturers, retailers, and distributors to self-report information to the commission that reasonably supports the conclusion that a consumer product contains a defect that could create a "substantial product hazard" or create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. 15 U.S.C. § 2064(b).

Failure to timely report to the CPSC under section 15(b) is a violation of the CPSA and is the primary basis by which the commission imposes civil penalties. Such late-reporting violations (or failure to report) can result in fines of over $15 million for a series of violations. Businesses subject to the CPSA must therefore carefully adhere to these reporting obligations. Compliance with reporting obligations, however, can be difficult where only incomplete guidance exists.

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