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Reviewing manufacturer incident reporting requirements

Wheeling residents may often hear news about products being recalled by manufacturers. While most correctly assume that such actions are only undertaken due to problems with the products being recalled, few may actually know what prompts recalls, and what sort of liability issues manufacturers may face during the process. 

One common misconception people often have is that recalls are initiated by regulatory agencies. While these entities do regulate and broadcast recalls, it is most often the manufacturer that issues a product recall. A manufacturer, however, is required to report the issues that may prompt a recall. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, manufacturers must report the following types of information: 

  • Discovery of a defective product that could pose a substantial risk of injury to consumers
  • Discovery of a product element that presents an unreasonable risk for serious injury or death
  • When a product is proven to be in violation of consumer safety rules and regulations
  • Incidents when a small child chokes in any element of a product and subsequently dies, suffers serious injury, loses conciousnous or requires treatment

The CPSC has released a Recall Handbook that offers manufacturers guidance regarding how to conduct recalls. Per the Handbook, it refers to any recall of a product over which it has jurisdiction as a Section 15 Report (in reference to Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act). A special Section 37 Report must also be filed if a particular product is made the subject of at least three civil lawsuits. In either case, manufacturers must alert the CPSC within 24 hours of receiving reportable information. 

A manufacturer may be held liable for not meeting CPSC reporting requirements. The same is true if a product injures or harms someone even after it has been recalled. 

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