In the Beginning…

As we look ahead to 2017 and our upcoming Annual Meeting and Training Symposium, I wanted to take a step back and look at how ICPHSO began.  Many members and attendees to the Symposium only know us as the organization with the hard to pronounce name (Ick-Fa-So).

It all began in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 18, 1993.  Twenty-four individuals from across the United States, Canada and Europe gathered to organize what would eventually become the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO).

ICPHSO grew out of the Association of Food and Drug Officials’ (AFDO) Product Safety Committee.  AFDO is comprised of federal, state, and local Food and Drug Officials and related industry.  In 1993, AFDO’s existing Consumer Product Safety Committee wanted to address product safety issues both nationwide and within individual states.  The Committee had modest success, but was never able to reach its full potential because very few Food and Drug Officials were involved in consumer product safety programs.  Food issues dominated the AFDO’s mandate, not consumer product safety.

So, some members of the AFDO along with other state and industry representatives, decided to see if it was the right time to make a change.  The purpose of the West Palm Beach meeting was to determine the feasibility of starting an organization dedicated solely to product safety.

The twenty-four individuals who attended that first meeting represented regulators (among them David Schmeltzer and Ross Koeser from CPSC as well as Elizabeth Nielsen from Canada’s Office of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, whose functions are now within Health Canada), the regulated industry (among them, Toy Manufacturers of America – now TIA, Coca Cola, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, DC Attorney Michael Brown and the Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association) , regulators representing eight states, consumer representatives and two international representatives from the United Kingdom and Canada.

The meeting set the wheels in motion for a new organization.  During the two-day discussion, it became apparent to the attendees that for ICPHSO to be independently successful, it would have to adapt to reflect less polarizing issues such as education, networking, and professional growth.  Out of that meeting a letter describing the new organization was issued that defined ICPHSO.  It read:

“A forum for international, federal, state and local regulators, members of regulated industry, and members of public interest groups to meet to discuss their various perspectives and concerns.  In short, a setting to “network” for the discussion of ideas, approaches and problems with other product safety professionals.”

The first Annual Symposium was held in Orlando, Florida in 1994 and was attended by 137 people from around the globe.  Over the following two years, an average of 150 people regularly attended.

Following the fourth symposium in 1997, it was time for ICPHSO to go on its own after being dropped by AFDO.   Ross Koeser, then President, was determined to bolster the young organization and hired a part time Executive Assistant, incorporated ICPHSO as a 501(c)3) non-profit organization and set up an office in Maryland.

And away ICPHSO went without ever looking back.  Several significant changes occurred at the 1998 Symposium.  For the first time, with the support of David Schmeltzer, then Director of Compliance at CPSC, a “Compliance Workshop” was held one day prior to the 1998 Annual Meeting and Symposium.  Over 90 people attended the successful half-day session, including manufacturers, importers, retailers, trade associations, international, state and local government, media, consumer advocates, and special interest groups.  The half day CPSC Compliance Workshop focused on the CPSC Compliance Program, and featured discussions around the industry’s reporting obligations, CPSC expectations for voluntary recalls, and how compliance activities relate to voluntary product safety standards. (All sound familiar?)  Then-Chairman Ann Brown, introduced the tradition of having the sitting CPSC Chairman present the keynote speech as part of the CPSC Compliance Program.

During the symposium, time was put aside to bring state contacts of CPSC to hold their annual meeting in conjunction with the ICPHSO meeting, thanks to then ICPHSO President Ross Koeser, who was the Director of State and Local Programs at CPSC.

This Symposium also saw the creation of an International Caucus which helped draw an increased global audience thanks to Elizabeth Nielsen (Canada) and Michael Drewry (Scotland). The following year several members of the Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe (PROSAFE) attended the Symposium which boosted international focus, interest, and attendance.

Finally, the format of the Annual Symposium was changed to a workshop style that encouraged more interaction between the audience and the presenters.

From there – ICPHSO continued to grow and added the American Bar Association’s Consumer Product Safety Law Seminar to the Annual Symposium, following in the footsteps of the CPSC Compliance Program to provide legal training and guidance on various consumer product safety issues.

In 1999, former President Ross Koeser, started as part time Executive Director.  In October 2015, I became ICPHSO’s first full time Executive Director.

As you can see, what began as a small undertaking by twenty-four dedicated volunteers, became an organization boasting over 450 members and holding three conferences every year. None of this could have been done without the dedicated health and safety professionals from all segments of product safety volunteering their time, and in many cases their organization’s and own resources to assure that ICPHSO is truly a global organization that remains a neutral forum for all stakeholders.  This commitment keeps consumer product safety on top of everyone’s agenda and provides safer consumer products globally.  It’s a true testament to the hard work and passion for product safety by the ICPHSO Founding Members that many of the original supporting organizations remain active today.  Among them –  JPMA, CFA, CPSC, Health Canada, PROSAFE, TIA, Fisher-Price/Mattel, McDonalds, Disney, Coca Cola, and many others.

We expect even more good things in 2017!

Next Orlando….66 Days To Go!

I am happy to report that Registration is now open for the 2017 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium, February 20-23, at the Hyatt Grand Cypress Hotel in Orlando, Florida.  We held our 2015 Symposium at the Grand Cypress and the facilities they offer are exceptional.  We should have sufficient space for the tutorial, plenary and breakout sessions that are all being planned as well as great accommodations for our exhibitors who will be in the foyer area just near the entrance to the Grand Cypress Ballroom where most of our week’s activities take place.   We also just posted our Preliminary Agenda for the week and as you will see, our focus on “Identifying and Managing Risk” is prevalent through most of the planned sessions.  We are also starting to focus on Sponsorships and Exhibitors.  If you are interested in being a sponsor, please contact Heather Konya, our Association Manager for Sponsorships and Exhibits, at Heather Konya and she will be happy to work with you and your organization.  Heather will work with you on sponsorship to give your organization maximum exposure to the over 700 attendees we expect to register over the next eight weeks.   It seems like just yesterday we were planning our International Symposium. Time doesn’t stop and we all march forward!

Speaking of sponsors, we are always looking for contributions to our Scholarship Fund (see page 11).  This fund has been a part of every ICPHSO Symposium and provides financial assistance to those organizations and individuals who may not otherwise be able to attend.  Our scholarship program is critical to ensure that all stakeholder voices are present and heard during our Symposium.  It makes it possible for consumer representatives, academia, and global regulators to attend by assisting them with registration and other costs.   This strengthens our commitment to product safety and allows all voices to be heard during critical discussions. Without support through contributions, it wouldn’t be possible.  We have added some exciting benefits for those who contribute to the scholarship fund.  Please look at the Sponsorship Opportunities we have posted and make your company or organization’s presence known to the safety community. Thank you in advance for your support.


My Day

As Executive Director of ICPHSO, I wear many different hats.  I am responsible for ensuring the three Symposiums we run every year are planned in a timely and orderly manner, ensure the content is timely and of interest to our many different stakeholders and I am responsible for the financial well-being of the organization as well.   On any given day, I am dealing with issues related to membership, the upkeep of our web-site to ensure timely and useful information and determining which critical safety issues should be covered by ICPHSO and planning for the next three Symposiums. 

As you have heard us say before, ICPHSO is the one global organization that brings all health and safety professionals together in an international, neutral forum to learn, network and share information.  Because of that, it’s important for me to be aware of product safety issues worldwide.  I rely on news stories as well as information I receive from our Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and individual members to stay on top of issues that could affect ICPHSO members.  

Having been your Executive Director now for a year and having successfully planned and implemented three Symposiums (2016 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium in Washington, D.C., the 2016 Regional Product Safety Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia, and the 2016 International Symposium in Brussels), I understand how important it is for the safety community to have a neutral forum to get critical information for the safe design, manufacture, and distribution of consumer products.  To this end, I am committed to strengthening ICPHSO.  I’m looking for opportunities where ICPHSO can collaborate with other organizations to bring critical product safety information and emerging safety issues to our many stakeholders.  For example, ICPHSO and ASTM recently co-sponsored a one day workshop in Washington, D.C. on Information and Education Programs .  We brought together experts in fields we haven’t generally heard.  Additional opportunities are also being pursued. Please feel free to contact me, if you think your organization might have an opportunity to work together with ICPHSO.

For now, it’s back to finalizing our upcoming 2017 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium ,  in Orlando, Florida.  We will open registration very soon as well as announcing numerous sponsorship/exhibitor opportunities for the Symposium.  Hotel reservations for Orlando are open  and I encourage you to make your reservations as soon as possible.  The hotel offers many amenities and all Symposium sessions take place at the hotel.  We are also working on some outside activities as well such as Dine-Arounds, to provide additional networking opportunities. Additional details will be posted on our website when available.  More about ICPHSO in future blogs.

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: *


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).



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.


ICPHSO in Brussels – Day 2

Day two of the 2016 ICPHSO International Symposium provided attendees practical steps to enhance the safety of consumer products.  The overall theme on the need to build safety into the product during the design stage continued.  Of course we were also reminded that safety review and evaluation doesn’t end with the design but should be carried out throughout  the life of the product.  Based upon the presentation from European Parliament Member, Christel Schaldemose, it’s clear that the safety of consumer products continues to be a global issue being addressed in a variety of ways by individual countries.  We heard about safety concerns involving drones and lithium-ion batteries, harmonization of product safety standards around the world and the need to address risk in new and emerging products. The final panel was an update from global regulators on pressing issues affecting their jurisdictions.  Looking forward to the rest of International Product Safety Week where the focus will be on the safety of products sold online as well as how to raise attention to product safety alerts and recalls issued globally.  ICPHSO members can access all presentation slides here.



ICPHSO in Brussels – Day 1

We held a successful first day of the 2016 ICPHSO International Symposium with nearly 240 health and safety professionals attending from more than 30 countries.  A diversity of ideas and views were exchanged.  We heard from global regulators, manufacturers, retailers, test labs, consumer representatives and others during a full day of plenary and breakout sessions.  Following the theme of the Symposium, panelists  were focused on Joining the Dots in a Connected World with views affecting product safety from around the globe.  The day was topped off by drinks and dinner at Autoworld where we not only enjoyed each others company but each table was given an assignment to come up with the challenges facing us as we go forward within the product safety community.  No rest for product safety… Always working to share ideas, best practices and information that helps us all do a better job in keeping products safe as demand for newer and smarter products increase. Looking forward to Day 2 sessions: Agenda