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Understanding the role of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

As many Montana residents would agree, in today's world, life without consumer products is almost unimaginable. Consumer products form an integral part of our lives, be it a toothbrush that we use in the morning or the night cream that many people apply on their faces before going to sleep. In fact, some of the most basic chores that we do every day are reliant on these products. Therefore, it is important that these products are harmless to the consumers who use them.

In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the public against injuries and other risks caused by defective products. The CPSC was established by the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972. Since then, the Commission has made significant contributions toward protecting the public from harm, such as injuries, illnesses and deaths that can be caused by consumer products. The CPSC has jurisdiction over thousands of products that we use in our homes, schools, workplaces and outdoors. However, there are a number of products that fall outside of its purview.

Some of the most important activities that the CPSC carries out are:

  • Facilitating the development of quality standards in cooperation with consumers, industries and other stakeholders
  • Enforcing certain standards or banning a product if that product remains unsafe, even after making all efforts to confirm that its safety has failed
  • Starting the recall process or taking other corrective action when a dangerous product is identified
  • Spreading awareness about unsafe products
  • Conducting research to identify new potential hazards to consumers
  • Inspiring industries to develop products that are safe for the consumer
  • Implementing practices that are necessary for manufacturing a safe consumer product

The CPSC's span of control covers manufacturers, distributors, retailers and importers, irrespective of their business revenue, size of organization, and employee strength. However, the CPSC never endorses or recommends any specific brand. Instead, the CPSC promotes a safer consumer marketplace by training importers and manufacturers about compliance with the CPSC's guidelines in order to help develop robust performance standards.

Source: CPSC.gov, "2011-2016 ' U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Strategic Plan," accessed on Sept. 25, 2014

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