It is critical that manufacturers, importers and retailers of consumer products remain vigilant in their monitoring and reporting of consumer product safety related issues.
With manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of consumer products facing significant issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has made clear in announcements that its mandatory safety reporting requirements remain strictly in place. Federal law requires a manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer of a consumer product to report within 24 hours any information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a product contains a defect that violates a CPSC regulation or otherwise could create a substantial product hazard. Violating a voluntary safety standard (such as an ASTM or ANSI standard) may also trigger a reporting requirement. Federal regulations allow a company 10 business days to investigate whether a Section 15(b) report should be made. Violation of this requirement can lead to multimillion-dollar civil penalties as well as criminal penalties.
Companies can make these reports online via the CPSC website, allowing them to still file timely reports even as most workforces are now remote and working from home. Not all Section 15(b) reports lead to product recalls, but a timely report will stop the clock from running on reporting obligations and potential late-reporting penalties. With many CPSC staff also transitioning to work from home recently, there had been somewhat of a slowdown in recall announcements. However, this appears to have changed as of last week when a number of new recalls were announced.
Product recalls often involve remedies including refunds and repair/replacement of recalled items. The CPSC has acknowledged that because of the pandemic, it may not be possible at this stage for such refunds/repairs/replacements to take place and has urged that any consumer who may be waiting for a refund or a recalled product to be repaired/replaced must immediately stop use of such product.
Thus, it is critical that manufacturers, importers and retailers of consumer products remain vigilant in their monitoring and reporting of consumer product safety related issues, as well in advising consumers to immediately stop use of recalled products.
About Duane Morris
Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.
For Further Information
If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Robert B. Hopkins, Paul S. Rosenlund, any of the attorneys in our Product Safety, Compliance and Recalls Group, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.
Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.