As KID’s executive director, I represent KID in the International Consumer Product Health & Safety Organization (ICPHSO) – a multi-stakeholder organization working to share information and move product safety forward. This year (until February) I am serving as President. In that role, I just returned from a week in Brussels, Belgium, where ICPHSO held its 2016 International Symposium, coupled with the International Product Safety Week hosted by the European Commission.
As you can imagine, the week after the US election, there was much speculation on what the future holds both for the topic of product safety and for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. But most of the meeting focused on the here and now with great panels giving practical advice to those in the field.
KID participated directly in two panels at ICPHSO. I moderated a lively discussion of improving communication on consumer product safety issues to the millennial generation – with great tips by our millennial panel that would improve outreach to all consumers on social media. We hope to see many of their ideas implemented in publicizing recalls, product registration and other safety messaging. I also spoke about the consumer interest in harmonizing standards from around the world. While businesses are keen to have standards that minimize duplicate testing and slightly different requirements, consumer organizations want to assure that not only are consumers included in the process, but that the resulting standards raise safety for everyone and allow citizens to promote safety in their own marketplaces.
After ICPHSO ended, we joined regulators and stakeholders from around the globe at the International Product Safety Week session on online consumer safety. As more products are bought and sold online, new tools are needed to assure consumer safety and remove dangerous products from online retailers. Major retailers such as Amazon, EBay and Alibaba spoke of their efforts to find and remove dangerous products in such a vast marketplace. I spoke of consumer expectations of safety with products purchased online and gave suggestions for ways consumers, sellers and the regulators could build on these efforts. Our presentation is here (at about 4:20 on the tape).
This meeting not only gave KID an opportunity to speak out for consumers, but connected us with other NGO’s internationally and provide valuable opportunities to help entities understand the safety issues consumers face. We learned that a German association that heard me speak in China earlier this year, followed up on the issues of furniture stability we mentioned with their own members – looking to increase safety based on KID’s work.
KID is heading out a little closer to home next week – to the Midwest Injury Prevention Alliance Summit in Wisconsin – but we know the networking and knowledge we exchange with other injury prevention groups will prove just as valuable.