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Product Recall Statistics – An FAQ for Manufacturers
Manufacturers of consumer products selling in the US market are aware of the potentially dangerous and costly consequences when their products contain a serious design defect or manufacturing defect. The website of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that there is indeed reason for caution on the part of all manufacturers: deaths, injuries and property damage from incidents related to consumer products cost the United States more than $700 billion annually.
The CPSC’s “November 2007 Recalls and Product Safety News” indicates a wide range of recent recalls that have been implemented to protect consumers from potential hazards ranging from lead-based paint in toys to collapsing furniture.
Here are FAQs for those manufacturers who are currently considering a product recall or who operate in industries that face a high risk of product recall-related incidents.
FAQ #1: What types of consumer products experience the highest incidence of recalls?
A: According to an analysis of the “November 2007 Recalls and Product Safety News” report available on the CPSC website, 36% of recalls in that month involved baby products or toys. Following closely were products in the following categories: jewelry/costume jewelry (13%), electronics/electrical products (13%), furniture (9%), and machinery/vehicles (6%). Other product categories represented among the multiple recall campaigns mediated by the CPSC in November include clothing, decorations, outdoor/sporting goods, school supplies, stationery, storage racks and tools.
FAQ #2: What are the most common potential hazards related to recent recalls?
A: The recalls in the aforementioned November report were implemented to avoid a number of potential public and consumer health hazards as indicated by the CPSC. By far the most prevalent potential hazard among recent recalls was that of the presence of lead in the recalled products (47%). Other potential hazards include the risk of fire (19%), collapse/bodily injury (11%), suffocation (6%), lacerations/cuts (6%), strangulation/suffocation (6%), and electric shock (4% ) ).
FAQ #3: What events typically lead to a product recall?
A: A product recall can happen in two main ways. The first is the result of multiple consumer-originated complaints to the CPSC or other government organizations about the same product. (Such complaints can be directed by consumers directly to the CPSC website). The second is when proactive or cautious manufacturers or distributors of a given product suspect a defect or defect and decide to err on the side of caution by setting up their own recall campaign. Either way, the CPSC is ultimately involved in all consumer product recalls — as long as the product in question is one of the 15,000 product types that fall under the CPSC’s domain.
FAQ #4: How should my company determine if we should issue a recall?
A: The determination of whether your company should issue a product recall should depend on a number of factors, both internal and external to your company. Often, multiple dimensions are considered when considering whether to issue a campaign. Legal, financial, ethical, technical and political factors are all involved. If you are facing a potential product recall and would like to learn more, visit the Business section of the CPSC website for information on regulations and industry guidance.
FAQ #5: What are the options available to me to convey the message to consumers and distributors in the event of a recall?
A: The very nature of most product recall situations is one of urgency. Companies have a number of options available to get the word out to affected parties, including direct mail, press releases, email and telephone-based campaigns. The fastest-implementing media for conducting recall message campaigns are telephone and email campaigns. However, phone-based campaigns are probably the most realistic to implement, as the typical company’s customer database often lacks email addresses for many consumers, while phone number data is readily available for most or all consumers.
Facing a product recall situation is something that every manufacturer or distributor would like to avoid. However, given that most consumer product categories are potentially at risk for recall – and given the public health hazards at stake – the decision to implement a campaign is often the least costly and most ethical choice. If your company faces a recall situation, it’s important to make quick, accurate judgments about who to contact and how to determine the content of the recall message that consumers will hear. From that point forward, choose a medium for your messaging campaign based on the following factors: time to launch, opportunities to reach the highest percentage of affected consumers, operational flexibility and cost.
Source: United States Product Safety Commission website
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