Monday March 05, 2018
ICHPSO Conference Features Many International ThemesBy Carol Roberts and Fergal Duggan, Cooley LLP
The International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) celebrated its 25th anniversary by holding its largest ever Annual Meeting and Training Symposium in Orlando, Florida from 18-23 February 2018. Attended by a varied host of over 800 of the world’s leading product safety experts from 18 countries, the meeting addressed the key product safety challenges for regulators, industry, consumers and other stakeholders alike.
Although there was a specific focus on new technology and the potential challenges a new generation of products may bring – widely recognised as the “hot topic” for product safety professionals globally – the panel sessions touched on a wide range of international issues, including: current trends in the ethics of product safety; how to safely market a product; how to respond to safety challenges caused by the increased use of social media; and an interactive product safety crisis simulation.
In a keynote address (PSL, 2/26/18), Acting CPSC Chairman, Ann Marie Buerkle, emphasised cooperation and collaboration: between regulators and industry; between industry and consumers; and between regulators internationally. This last point was evidenced practically and formalised by the signing (PSL, 2/26/18) of a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the representatives of Health Canada, the Consumer Protection Federal Agency of the United Mexican States (PROFECO) and the CPSC.
The MoU is designed to facilitate better exchanges of information and regulatory cooperation among the three product safety organisations – including sharing best practices and improving the harmonisation and alignment of international product safety standards. Acting Chairman Buerkle stated that this MoU “is intended to memorialize cooperative efforts already underway, as well as to facilitate future joint activities” and “has produced substantive, tangible outcomes benefiting consumers in all of North America, since consumer products flow easily across our shared borders.”
Several sessions highlighted broader themes, relevant not just to North America, but also to Europe and countries across the world in the product safety sphere. Here, we consider some of those broader themes that were drawn out as part of the wider conversation at ICPHSO.
There was discussion of three areas that are in focus in Europe and that are expected to be of importance in the coming years: how to deal with safety issues where the risk only occurs later in time; the relationship between European regulatory authorities and manufacturers; and the impact of new technology on product safety.
Firstly, a number of panellists focused on how issues stemming from an unsafe product do not arise until long after the product has been used.
Secondly, relevant in Europe, but also to product safety stakeholders across the world, the relationship between authorities and manufacturers was discussed many times across the course of the conference.
Thirdly, the topic of whether product safety regulation can evolve to cater for new technology or whether revolutionary ideas are needed was discussed at length. The questions we pose below are challenging product safety specialists from every discipline:
As noted above, many trends in product safety are global, not US or Europe specific. We outline a number of trends:
It was clear by the end of the ICPHSO Meeting that the discussion would not end in Florida. Indeed, it was noted multiple times during the week that we are at the dawning of a “transformative era,” and we think it is likely that the themes we have drawn out above will continue to challenge, inform and engage product safety professionals for some time to come.
The next ICPHSO International Symposium (bit.ly/2oGLjUN) is being planned for November 2018, hosted by the European Commission in Brussels as part of the European Commission’s International Product Safety Week. Watch this space.
Dispatch from the EU is a monthly feature provided exclusively for PSL subscribers by Cooley LLP, www.cooley.com. For further information about the above, contact Rod Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.