I am thrilled to hear that the Consumer Product Safety Commission will be launching a new website on which consumers may search for a product by name or type to see what safety issues may arise with that product. This is long overdue and I believe will prevent numerous injuries caused by defective products.
The CPSC, a relatively small federal agency of about 530 employees, has jurisdiction over more than 15,000 kinds of consumer products used in homes, sports, recreation and schools. It does not, however, have any actual real recall power, and the decision whether to recall an unsafe or defective product still rests with the manufacturer. I think that is a misperception that alot of people around the U.S. probably have, i.e., that the CPSC has some enforcement mechanism to mandate removal of unsafe products. It does not. The consumer has to be proactive in searching out information about certain products and the new CPSC website will help. The new CPSC website is not expected to be up and running until March 2011, so check it then. In the meantime, you may still gather alot of information about any product you may suspect has a problem at the CPSC’s current website, www.cpsc.gov.