Using the Web to Track Product Recalls and Risks

When a dangerous product is on the market, it's important to get the word out quickly about product defects, especially when a recall is involved. Two new websites are helping to do just that.

The goal is to give the consumer more useful, comprehensive information all in one place. Prior to the new websites, multiple different government agencies were responsible for announcing various different types of product recalls to the public via the many agency websites or other sources.

This new website focuses on families with school-aged children and offers a comprehensive list of all product recalls and safety defects. The website is a product of the recently formed National School Safety Coalition, which was organized by Consumer Reports, the National Parent Teacher Association and the National School Board Association.

"The whole idea is to get the information into the homes of school-aged children," said Don Mays, Senior Director of Safety for Consumer Reports. The coalition also plans to send weekly newsletters home with students containing safety alerts and recall notices for children's products.

The website's goal is to help keep parents well informed on current safety information. A poll by Consumer Reports showed that Americans agree it is important to be well informed about product recalls. But most people are not confident that they are getting adequate information. More than half of Americans reported that they never or rarely fill out registration cards that come with products and are used to contact consumers in case of a recall or defect.

On March 11 the Consumer Product Safety Commission launched the website as mandated by Congress as part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The new website's goal is to allow consumers to report and track recalls and to help the CPSC identify safety hazards more quickly.

The website is a forum for consumers to report products with potential safety hazards and to search through other consumers' reports for products that they own or are considering purchasing.

The CPSC has set up procedures to ensure that all reports are taken seriously. The CPSC will review all qualified online reports and transmit reports to the manufacturers within five business days. The manufacturer has ten business days to review the consumer reports, make comments and post them on the website.

If you have been injured by a defective product, or someone in your family has, contact an experienced personal attorney in your area. A lawyer can explain to you what your legal options are.