ICPHSO’s first visit to Tokyo, Japan and our just completed 2017 International Symposium was a great success. The attendee turn out from more than 15 different countries provided a global perspective during the Symposium. And, our panels of expert speakers, our sponsors and exhibitors all reminded us why the “I” is in ICPHSO’s name.
ICPHSO brings together manufacturers, retailers, regulators, and others from the safety community to discuss, learn and be trained on how to make the world a safer place for all consumers. The international aspect of those topics is becoming more and more important in Japan as we learned from keynote presentations by Government of Japan regulators. In Japan, companies have led innovation for decades and Japanese consumers have an appetite for innovative products. Below I will highlight notes from our keynote speakers for Day 1 of the Symposium:
Takashi Wada, Director of the Product Safety Division, Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
Director Wada highlighted areas of issues based primarily on the advancement of global technologies affecting consumers within Japan and discussed specific issues and how actions have been taken to improve the safety of various products. METI manages and endorses counter measures of suppliers.
The total number of accident reports has been decreasing over the last 9 years. 802 accidents reported in 2016. 672 (80%) were fires and fire by electrical appliances is the most common.
Elderly people – relatively speaking are involved with more product deaths and injuries. Accidents for children under 10 are mostly serious or severe. Deaths – rising for the elderly people in their 70s, 80s etc. according to their data. Fatal accidents involving elderly people over the age of 80 are increasing. Japan has a respect for Elderly day in September, which is a holiday, and products which are common for accidents with the elderly are highlighted in a press release and in other ways to protect the elderly based on the injury and death data collected.
Post market product: manufacturer recalls. No special laws that mandate a recall, but manufacturers can be instructed to act. Normally, voluntary decision is needed to conduct the recall. In 2016, a total of 91 recalls were recorded. 18 were triggered by serious accidents. 73 triggered by non-serious accidents.
Recalls are an effective way to restore products, however many of these products remain in the market though, even when there is a recall. These products may still cause accidents. There were still 89 accidents in 2016 caused by products that were not recovered in a recall.
How to enhance effectiveness of recalls? Rise in use of IOT – traceability of products can be done at lower cost. There is no proof of the concept yet, but some ideas such as the use of QR codes on products which allows information on the product to be provided at low-cost. Once subjected to recalls, consumers can know of this. If consumers are registered, they can be told of recalls. Recall information notice system, could also notify of inspections.
Award manufacturers for best practice in product safety. Product safety award system was developed in Japan 11 years ago. Product safety inspection is recommended to consumers in a particular month. Biggest event is then the awarding system. This week on Thursday at Shibuya there was an awarding ceremony.
This year’s award winners – YKK and Acuface Laboratory Inc. Several other companies received awards and presented their best practices to share their activities within the industries.
Mr. Wada discussed ideas for cooperation with foreign product safety authorities. Overseas production are not subject to regulation so METI doesn’t have as much information about violation of the products. METI needs cooperation of foreign regulators. Difficult to ask people selling illegal products through overseas sites into Japan. So they deal with this in a number of different ways:
• Bilateral Cooperation with CPSC and AQSIQ (Cooperative Agreements such as MOU and Guidelines)….
• Multilateral Cooperation e.g. OECD / ICPHSO
• Technical cooperation with Southeast Asian countries. Including new cooperation with Thailand.
A key take away from this keynote presentation was the invitation to cooperate and collaboration not only between global regulators but also between industries and organizations such as ICPHSO where industries can learn best practices.
Ann Marie Buerkle, Acting Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was the second keynote presenter on day 1 of the International Symposium. The Acting Chairman again recognized ICPHSO as the gold standard for collaboration.
ICPHSO provides the perfect opportunity to discuss collective goal of product safety. The Acting Chairman pointed out while there is a change in leadership at CPSC, the mission remains the same. Laws and regulations don’t change – keep consumer safe from unreasonable risk and harm.
Buerkle stressed collaboration and engagement – reaching out to all stakeholders and taking advantage of their expertise. Reasonable thoughtful approach. Education is key – not just for consumers but for industry as well.
The CPSC follows guidelines and direction from Congress. CPSC priorities include the development of a strategic plan; sharing data and information and following an operating plan which just came before CPSC. The operating plan provides the public a roadmap on how CPSC navigates and spend resources. This information is available to all on the CPSC website.
Acting Chairman Buerkle discussed how to most effectively enact agenda: by identifying and addressing risks and emerging hazards; improving import surveillance to ensure what is done at ports can help prevent dangerous products from getting in to the market and how to enhance the agency’s ability to receive data.
The challenge is not only what’s in front of the CPSC by reviewing and looking at incidents through data, but also to be vigilant about emerging hazards. What else is on the horizon? A current concern is the internet of things CPSC has some 550 employees, $125 million budget, and has jurisdiction over 15,000 types of consumer products. It is not an easy task to look out on the horizon. Some of those emerging hazards include big data and e-commerce. IOT is quickly developing – it’s a double-edged sword. Products can get to consumer more quickly but also companies can let them know when there is a problem.
The Chairman also discussed what she identified as her priorities for CPSC.
One such priority is collaboration and engagement among all stakeholders (consumers, manufacturers and government)
Another priority is import surveillance. It’s better not to let unsafe products into the country then have to deal with them afterwards in a recall. Continue to use risk assessment methodology to look at products coming into the country to ensure compliance.
A challenge facing CPSC is e-commerce. What consumers now do is go onto third-party platforms or directly to manufacturers and order a product to their home. How to ensure that product is safe and compliant?
Through collaboration with third-party platforms and others, CPSC wants to discuss how to be a part of the solution. These platforms and others could be an unwilling or unwitting party to unsafe products coming into the stream of commerce.
A further priority is collaboration and education. This needs to go to consumers and the regulated community. Can make expectations more clear this way as well as affecting safety in the long run. Consumer education is also important – so often unaware of hazards. Calling consumer attention to hidden hazards is critical, such as the CPSC’s safe sleep campaign. Raising awareness is one key to reaching consumers.
Another very important part of what CPSC does is the voluntary standards process. Make sure, when possible, to pursue this rather than mandatory standard. On a practical level it makes a lot of sense. Think of this as a consensus standard, when all stakeholders are around the table and identify an issue and work together to identify how to address the safety issue. A consensus standard is real-time – it can be changed easily and quickly if it is not working.
CPSC is also working with the international community to conduct workshops so that people understand what a product needs to comply with if it is to be brought into the United States. We no longer live in a local economy, it is a global economy. Problems facing the United States are probably facing everyone in the International Symposium.
Another priority is data. CPSC has to be a data driven agency and needs increased resources from congress to increase capability to receive different types of data and do analysis of that data. Data helps to identify emerging hazards. Getting the agency modernized with data is a key component and priority. Data drives voluntary standards and other proactive actions. Despite the fact that so much of what the CPSC does has to do with injury and death, its important to remember, as an agency, we have to rely on data and science. That is how we do our best work. Look at data and identify where the emerging hazards are and address it with one of the tools we have to deal with the issue.
CPSC held a recall effectiveness workshop in August. Recall effectiveness is something that has been discussed but is an enigma. How do we measure recall effectiveness? How do we get to the consumer? Its imperative to find ways to directly notify consumers (e.g. product registration or other means), through a best practices handbook for recalls. CPSC will continue to discuss this in order to get to some real solutions. Can recalls be tiered? Not all recalls are created equal. This is an ongoing discussion we will continue to have.
We all have a common interest in safety, we are all consumers, and we all have families, for whom we want safe products. That is the common goal. It is a great place to start. CPSC remains available to discuss solutions and issues with all stakeholders.
I will provide additional summaries on our International Symposium in the days ahead. I appreciate the assistance of Board Member and Symposium Chair Rod Freeman and his team from the Cooley law firm (Alex Radcliffe, Carol Roberts, Sarah-Jane Dobson, Fergal Duggin and Mark Deem), who helped plan and implement our Symposium. The notes provided by the Cooley team are much appreciated as I report on the activities that took place during the Symposium. Any observations included about the Symposium are my own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Cooley or ICPHSO.