Changes to agency rules interpreting section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act will help ensure consumers receive transparent and timely information on product safety dangers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports (CR) today announced its support for the work of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to reduce corporate secrecy and maximize transparency to the public about products that could hurt them, through changes to its regulations implementing section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act. CR submitted formal comments yesterday that are largely in support of the agency’s proposals, and provided recommendations for how to make sure the public can access safety information on potentially hazardous products.
Oriene Shin, policy counsel for Consumer Reports said, “Consumers have a right to know if a product in their homes is putting them or their loved ones at risk—yet people can’t protect themselves from a danger they don’t know about. For far too long, unscrupulous manufacturers have used section 6(b) to keep information about hazardous products under wraps. This anti-consumer, anti-safety provision of law has contributed to preventable injuries and deaths tied to everyday products found in people’s homes. Ultimately, Congress should repeal section 6(b) —but until that happens, we will support every step the CPSC can take to improve transparency and get more actionable safety information out to the public.”
The CPSC is tasked with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with some 15,000 types of consumer products. However, section 6(b) of the agency’s primary statute often prevents the CPSC from informing the public in a timely manner about legitimate product hazards without the approval of the company at fault. The approval process can delay or deny the release of important consumer safety information for weeks, months, or even years, which leaves unknowing consumers at risk of injury or death.
The last decade alone has shown how section 6(b) has hindered the CPSC from fulfilling its mission and kept the public in the dark about critical safety information. Findings from a 2021 Congressional investigation into Fisher-Price’s handling of Rock ‘n Play inclined infant sleepers emphasized the role section 6(b) played in preventing the CPSC from fully warning the public, which contributed to additional preventable infant deaths connected to the Rock ‘n Play.
Consumer Reports is urging the CPSC to adopt the proposed updates to Section 6(b), along with CR’s suggested modifications, and to shift its internal practices to maximize the public’s access to lifesaving safety information. The organization has set up a petition anyone can sign if they agree, and want to see action from the CPSC. CR also supports the Sunshine in Product Safety Act, a bill introduced in March that would repeal section 6(b), and will continue to work with the CPSC and everyone who wants safer homes to ensure that the CPSC is best equipped to communicate with the public about important safety issues.
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