Consumer Federation of America * Consumers Union * Kids In Danger * Public Citizen * U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Nov. 29, 2016
Consumer Groups: Check SaferProducts.gov for Safer Holiday Shopping
Safety Database Gives Consumers Five Years of Incident Reports and Helps Them Avoid Potentially Dangerous Products
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leading consumer groups today released a one-of-its-kind analysis of SaferProducts.gov, the government’s safety database for household, outdoor and children’s products. In the report, SaferProducts.gov: Five Years Live, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Kids In Danger, Public Citizen and U.S. Public Interest Research Group conclude that the five-year-old database is a must-visit site for anyone buying products for children, relatives or friends this holiday season.
SaferProducts.gov enables government agencies, public safety entities, health care professionals, child service providers and consumers to both report dangerous products and search the reports that others have submitted. It is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent federal agency.
The consumer groups’ report analyzed eight data points, including which manufacturers and which products have the most reports of harm among the roughly 29,000 reports submitted over five years.
Key findings show that reports of harm in SaferProducts.gov are concentrated in a few specific manufacturers and product types. Specifically, the groups found:
- Many reports of harm are concentrated among 10 manufacturers. Almost 40 percent of the reports are for products from 10 manufacturers, with the rest spread out among 3,802 other manufacturers.
- Appliances make up a large percentage of reports among the top 10 manufacturers. Of the roughly 11,000 reports referencing one of the top 10 manufacturers, 72 percent involve the “appliances” subcategory. Ranges or ovens of various types make up the vast majority of these reports with “electric ranges or ovens” comprising the largest segment, 34 percent, of the top ten product types reported.
- 31percent of reports document some level of injury.
- More than half of the 90 fatalities reported involved children aged 12 or under.
- Less than half of the published reports in SaferProducts.gov include manufacturer comments in response.
SaferProducts.gov is an Excellent Tool that Could Be Improved
SaferProducts.gov is growing, easy to use and provides helpful information. While a useful resource, the consumer groups offered a series of recommendations for improving the database:
- Increase promotion of the site. Additional outreach and training is needed toincrease submissions by the public and health care professionals.
- Expand the data sources included in SaferProducts.gov. There are a variety of additional CPSC databases, such as staff in depth investigations, Medical Examiners and Coroners Alert Project and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System that would substantially increase the value of SaferProducts.gov if they were interoperable.
- Release overall reports on data trends. SaferProducts.gov contains a great deal of useful data, and the CPSC should compile and release an annual report identifying the trends in harm posed by products in the database.
- Improve data categories and searchability. Adding more macro-level categories such as “all children’s products” — in addition to the existing, micro-level categories — would make analyzing the data much easier. Additionally, a searchable field for the type of harm documented would be enable consumers and researchers to better use this valuable resource.
To increase use of SaferProducts.gov, the nation’s leading consumer groups are launching a social media campaign to spread the word and encourage reporting to, and research using, the database. #5YearsLive, #SaferProducts, #SaferHolidays, #SaferShopping will be used in a coordinated effort over Twitter and Facebook to alert consumers about the important, lifesaving benefits of SaferProducts.gov.
Below are quotes from each organization:
Consumer Federation of America
“While many parents, grandparents and caregivers check with friends and others before buying a child related product, SaferProducts.gov provides access to nearly 30,000 reports on a wide variety of products,” stated Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel at Consumer Federation of America. “Researching holiday gifts on SaferProducts.gov before you buy is a great way to protect your loved ones.”
“Our analysis of SaferProducts.gov shows a concentration of reports of harm among a few manufacturers and within the kitchens and appliances categories,” stated Michael Best, senior policy advocate at Consumer Federation of America. “In our recommendations we urge the CPSC to release an annual analysis of this data that will explain these trends.”
“The database is a great resource for consumers,” said William Wallace, policy analyst for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports. “If you’re interested in buying a product, you can check SaferProducts.gov for reports. If you happen to get an unsafe product, you can report it and help keep other people from harm.”
Kids in Danger
“Reports of injury and fatalities among children can be found throughout the database,” stated Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger. “Parents and caregivers should research the site before purchasing children’s products and CPSC should provide additional analysis of the site to better understand these hazards.”
“SaferProducts.gov provides critical information for consumers to help them avoid purchasing dangerous products, including those that have caused fatalities,” said Susan Harley, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “However, the use and functionality of the database must be improved in order to provide a more accurate picture of consumer product threats.”
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
“SaferProducts.gov is one of a growing number of public complaint databases that help government consumer protection agencies make markets work better by giving consumers and researchers more information to help them make purchasing decisions and reward better, safer companies with more business,” said Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG consumer program director. “It would be a big mistake for Congress or the administration to reduce access to these important databases or cut the budgets of these important agencies.”
Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.
Consumers Union is the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. As the world’s largest independent product-testing organization, Consumer Reports uses its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center to rate thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 7 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.
Kids In Danger (KID) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety. KID was founded in 1998 by the parents of sixteen-month-old Danny Keysar who died in his Chicago childcare home when a portable crib collapsed around his neck.
Public Citizen is a national non-profit organization with more than 400,000 members and supporters. We represent the public interest through lobbying, litigation, administrative advocacy, research and public education on a broad range of issues including consumer rights in the marketplace, product safety, worker rights, workplace safety, financial regulation, safe and affordable health care, campaign finance reform and government ethics, fair trade, climate change and corporate and government accountability. Learn more at citizen.org.
U.S. PIRG serves as the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. PIRGs are non, profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that take on powerful special interests on behalf of their members.