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.