ICPHSO 2016 International Symposium Recap

ICPHSO In Brussels – Summary Report

ICPHSO’s 2016 International Symposium held in conjunction with the European Commission’s International Product Safety Week was a resounding success.  With nearly 240 attendees representing stakeholders from 34 countries, the two-day symposium was filled with relevant and practical advice on how to address risk in a connected world.  Highlights from the Symposium included the following: *

DAY 1 SUMMARY – NOVEMBER 14, 2016

Presentations from European Commissioner Jourova and CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye:

  • Focus on international cooperating and recognizing product safety issues in the connected world;
  • Maintaining shared product safety principles with the U.S., China and other trading partners with emphasis on international cooperation to address safety issues globally rather than individually;
  • Commissioner Jourova discussion on empowering consumers so that they are better informed of potential safety risks and recalls. The RAPEX system was highlighted as a mechanism to keep European consumers informed of emerging safety issues and how to better refine it for further consumer use;
  • Chairman Kaye emphasized the importance of working together worldwide and maintaining strong partnerships to address critical safety issues in the future.

 

Internet of Things (IoT):  What You Need To know:

  • Discussion of how IoT can improve consumer product safety in a tangible way in terms of providing safety information and software updates;
  • Review of some specific challenges, e.g., interconnectivity issues, problems with software updates from third parties or the failure of the updates to be installed and how these challenges are being addressed by regulators;
  • How European and United States regulators are addressing IoT: The European Union is looking at IoT and policy with its AIOTI initiative and is listening to stakeholders.  The United States is carrying out its own public consultations and is actively considering the benefits and concerns.

 

Human Factors Affecting the Safety Journal:

  • Discussion of how consumer behavior affects product safety and recall effectiveness;
  • Looked at intentional and unknown misuse of products by consumers, the failure to notice warnings and failure to follow instructions;
  • Discussed how manufacturers can help this situation through the design of the product and what should the manufacturer be responsible for in the product design and use of the product;
  • Discussion of whether the consumer becomes responsible for their use of the product or does it remain the responsibility of the manufacturer;
  • Discussion by the Latvian regulators about why recalls are failing to effectively remove unsafe products from the marketplace and what can should be done by manufacturers to address the issue

 

ISO 10377 – the Building Blocks for a Compliance Program:

  • Discussion about a tool for manufacturers to help ensure safety and reduce risks – using ISO 10377 – which some countries are looking to make mandatory;
  • Discussion about how to ensure that manufacturers are pro-active about safety (i.e., by building and following effective and complete safety and compliance programs) rather than being merely reactive to safety issues;
  • Discussion of the standard that sets out guidance for manufacturers in running an effective compliance program – one key aspect being for manufacturers to actively monitory the marketplace, look at what is happening to their products after purchase, and look at how the products are being used by consumers.

 

For Non-Millennials by Millennials:  Communications product Safety Information to the Millennial:

Communicate with millennials on platforms they use and interact with:

o   Newspapers less effective; apps/online yes

o   Note use of phone/devices as opposed to PC’s

Tailor the messaging for millennials:

o   Note the short attention span! (8 second online attention span)

o   CPSC uses light-hearted messaging/humor to communicate a serious safety message is particularly effective for millennials.

CPSC currently using Twitter and YouTube with success:

o   Recall information in 140 characters for tweets

o   Meme style safety messaging – major part of their communication strategy going forward.

 

Batch Compliance/Online Trading:

Batch compliance

  • There is a gap in regulation currently – mechanisms used by manufacturers (for CE marking) focus on prototype testing – and are not a valid way of determining whether the products that reach the market and consumer are in fact compliant when they are not (testing is destructive and consumers don’t buy defective products);
  • Batch compliance is best way to address this issue – all information (prototype and batch compliance testing) available on one database, and other important issues (such as CSR, environment) can be recorded in one place, the unique requirements for all.

 

Online Trading

  • Alternatively – the compliance regulation gap is best addressed by a threefold mechanism: education about product compliance, implementation (informed approach) and communication (with consumers);
  • E-commerce present issues/challenges for batch compliance – main concern are those that are ignoring rules at best or deliberately sending non-conforming products to market. This year around 600 million of individual parcels are sent to the EU – out of 600 million that come in each year into EU that the control on product safety and on two other important issues taxation (VAT) and IP – failure in one is indicative of failure in the others (because those who break the rules in one area are likely to be less concerned about breaking it in others).

  

DAY 2 SUMMARY – NOVEMBER 15, 2016:

Keynote – Christel Schaldemose

–          MEP Schaldemose discussed where the European Parliament has got to with the drafting of the new Product Safety and Market Surveillance.

–          She gave her key takeaways:

  • Demand safety by design – bringing safety to the forefront of product design and manufacture;
  • Introduction of a pan-European accident database to best focus attention on the products posing a real risk to consumers;
  • More and better market surveillance at EU level;
  • More stringent penalties for non-compliance – the current penalties are not a sufficient deterrent to rogue traders;
  • Country of origin marking – this has caused much debate in the Parliament and with stakeholders, which is stopping the progress of new legislation.  MEP Schaldemose was adamant that it was most important to move the new legislation forward, rather than let issues stall progress, and she mentioned that there may be an alternative position, perhaps requiring country of origin marking on a few product sectors with the goal of monitoring the effect on safety and trade.

 

Improving Consumer Product Safety: Current Risks and Lessons Learned

  • The panel emphasized the importance of bringing safety to the forefront of design and manufacture of products – requiring ‘safety by design’;
  • Director Spanou talked about learning from the success story of RAPEX showing effective cooperation across Member States.  She emphasized that these principles can and should be applied to a coordinated joint enforcement effort with market surveillance across the EU and EEA;
  • The industry perspective from the Toy Industries of Europe: smart, focused market surveillance is needed to target the rogue traders, not the good guys who comply;

 

  • Rich O’Brien from the CPSC set out 7 key actions to improve consumer product safety:
  • Legislated bans on certain types of products;
  • Efficient penalties;
  • For products that have a tech regulation, require a certificate of conformity.  E.g. Adult Bike helmet;
  • Third party testing requirements for, e.g., children’s products;
  • Targeted market surveillance across all markets (‘bricks and mortar’, e-commerce; customs);
  • Provide training and information to industry.  e.g., small business, partner with other jurisdictions; web-based training, etc.;
  • Have the best in-house capacity for hazard identification and reduction.

 

Regulations for Drones:

  • The drone industry is growing dramatically, which in turn has resulted in a high interest from regulators
  • Drones raise several potential safety concerns – research by the market surveillance authorities shows that 92% of drones in the market are non-compliant;
  • Existing regulations relevant to drones may not be sufficient;
  • The EU and US are both developing new regulations relevant to drone technology;
  • In the meantime, we should be looking at how to help consumers make better purchasing decisions with drones.

 

Lithium-ion batteries:

  • Tutorial on Lithium-ion batteries:  how they work, how they fail, what can happen as a result, and how we can better design these batteries to minimize risks.

 

Standards Alignment: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

  • Looked at the importance of standards alignment and how to foster it, from the perspective of various stakeholders (the consumer (KID), from manufacturers (Mattel and IKEA), retailers (IKEA), and standards bodies (CENELEC))
  • This includes:

o   eliminating barriers to trade;

o   encouraging cooperation with standards bodies and legislators worldwide, and

o   reducing the inconsistencies and repetition in existing standards;

  • Looked at some examples where this has worked well in the toy industry and considered how this can be replicated;
  • We also looked the process of developing and aligning standards, and considered what makes a good standards development procedure.

 

Connecting the Dots: Safety Criteria for Innovative Products:

  • The challenges faced from a safety perspective when launching an innovative product;
  • Heard again about the importance of safety by design and pre-market risk assessments for innovative products;
  • In this global market, we heard how the lack of sufficient accident data can hamper effective responses to product safety;
  • We also heard that, with innovative new products, we sometimes need innovative solutions when safety issues do arise – we heard from the CPSC on how a pro-active and coordinated global response was adopted in relation to the safety issues with hover boards.

 

Update from Product Safety Regulators around the World

  • Clear messages from the regulators on international collaboration and cooperation helping to increase product safety;
  • Overview of risk assessment and procedures in China;
  • Health Canada talked about increasing collaboration, the challenges of the online marketplace and piloting new online/social media outreach campaigns;
  • CPSC discussed their risk management process and some of the hazards they are focussing on – children (strangulation, suffocation, and furniture tip-over), CO poisoning, table saws, and discussed how many hazards are now interconnected;
  • In Australia, heard about the review of the current consumer product safety regime (Australian Consumer Law) and challenges of the single law/multiple regulator model, interaction of the current regime with specialist safety regimes;
  • European Commission talked about their priorities – improving the safety of products sold online; focusing on international cooperation; improving use and impact of RAPEX; coordinating enforcement activities and joint actions.

 

*Thanks to ICPHSO Board Member and International Symposium Planning Chair, Rod Freeman and his team from Hogan Lovells International LLP (Ellie Pszonka, Sarah-Jane Dobson and Anthea Davies) for not only planning and running an excellent Symposium but also providing this Symposium summary.

 

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