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Monday March 04, 2024

ICPHSO Holds 2024 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium

The International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) held its 2024 Annual Meeting and Training Symposium on February 19-22, 2024 in Orlando, Fla.


ICPHSO is an international, neutral forum for product safety stakeholders to learn, network and share information. It typically hosts three types of events each year – an annual Symposium in the US, an annual International Symposium outside of the US and regional training workshops based in North America.


This year's Annual Meeting and Training Symposium had over 760 delegates – including regulators, manufacturers, retailers, testing laboratories, consumer organisations, law firms, standards organisations and academia. Kim Mason from Five Below was the Planning Chair for the program, working alongside the Planning Committee of volunteer ICPHSO members.


Alexander Hoehn-Saric, Chair of the US CPSC gave a keynote. He reflected on changes under the new leadership of the agency. Unilateral warnings, that were once rare, are now an important part of the tool box with 26 issued in the last year - more than issued in the previous five years combined. The CPSC has assessed nearly $110 million in civil penalties during his time as Chair – a massive increase. Mandatory safety regulations have been finalized, including for button cell batteries, powerful magnets, furniture tip-overs and adult portable bed rails. Consumer education efforts are being expanded to reach communities often overlooked – including Native American communities, and outreach to small and large businesses domestically and around the world is being expanded. Despite uncertainty regarding budget, the CPSC will be pursuing an ambitious agenda that includes finalizing "long-delayed rulemakings", continuing small business outreach and information sharing (in-person and through the Regulatory Robot), enforcing the safety standards put into place over the last few years, educating consumers about potential product safety hazards, and strengthening the ability to prevent hazardous products reaching consumers - particularly through monitoring imports. Expanding on remarks made during the ICPHSO International Symposium in Sweden in October 2023, sales of products on online marketplaces remain a key focus. A copy of his remarks is available on the CPSC's webpage at


Austin Schlick, Executive Director from the US CPSC gave an update on CPSC FY23 accomplishments and FY24 priorities. Planned proposed rules for 2024 include aerosol dusters, bassinets, button batteries in toys, infant carriers, Li-Ion batteries in micromobility products, water beads, water floats and e-bikes (advance notice of proposed rulemaking), to expand NEISS hospital enrollments and accelerate delivery of death certificate data. Enforcement priorities include adult portable bedrails, ATVs, clothing storage units (tip-overs), high powered magnet products, infant sleep products, packaging including button and coin cell batteries and retailers in underserved communities.


Jen Sultan, Deputy Director, Office of Compliance and Field Operations at CPSC provided an update on compliance and field operations. This covered the increasing use of unilateral notifications as a tool, recent letters and guidance issued (including letters on micromobility devices, letters encouraging compliance with new regulatory authorities - infant sleep rule, crib bumper ban, magnet safety rule and adult portable bed rails, as well as guidance for categorizing youth ATVs), recall monitoring and civil penalties.


Speakers from Health Canada provided a regulatory update covering annual compliance verification reporting, as well as incident reports and surveillance data. Health Canada issued a notice of intent on proposals to amend the Toy Regulations seeking feedback. We also heard about work on compliance promotion, inspection and outreach efforts - including to remote areas that would not normally have in-person contact with inspectors, joint international efforts with the European Commission, US CPSC and Mexico's PROFECO agency and about an important project deconstructing unconscious bias (DUB).


Graham Russell, Chief Executive and Sarah Smith, Deputy Chief Executive from the UK Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) spoke about three practices - outcomes, risk and intervention choices. Regulators need to prioritize issues – thinking about what matters and where they can make a difference. The OPSS has been working on a new tool to look at the broader picture for emerging priorities and help make decisions around interventions. Areas of focus for the OPSS include batteries for e-bikes and products sold on online platforms. The UK Government's response to the consultation on fire safety of domestic upholstered furniture is expected to be published in the coming weeks.


Pinuccia Contino, Deputy to the Director for Consumers & Head of the Product Safety and Rapid Alert System Unit, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST) at the European Commission gave an update from the EU with a focus on the upcoming new obligations under the General Product Safety Regulation that will apply from December 13, 2024. To implement the new rules, the Commission is working on 46 actions, including 10 implementing measures such an upcoming Delegated Act to lay down new operating rules for Safety Gate and align the risk assessment guidelines for non-harmonized and harmonized products (i.e. generally CE marked products).


Pinuccia Contino and Richard O'Brien, Director, Office of International Programs at the CPSC presented a plenary session "International Organizations as Product Safety Hothouses: What's in there for Consumers? How regulators and other stakeholders work together to make sure all consumers are safer worldwide", with a guest appearance by Brigitte Acoca, Head of Consumer Policy Unit at the OECD. We heard about collaboration between different jurisdictions, work by the UNCTAD working group on consumer product safety, as well as organizations such as the OCED. Policy work at this level can be the first seed that lays the path for further regulatory developments. The European Commission funded a study of the OECD on the impact of products using new technology like AI and consumer health – including mental health. Interim results are expected to be presented later this year and what comes out of the study may influence regulators all around the world.


Pinuccia Contino also received the Ross Koeser Achievement Award for her contribution to product safety. The secret to her success? Leading with compassion.


There were a number of thought provoking keynotes. Andrew Frank, Founder and President of KARV stressed the importance of having a plan in place ahead of a potential recall scenario. Kelly Mariotti President and CEO of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) left attendees with a quote from Maya Angelou "[d]o the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better". Rohan Oommen Vice President, Worldwide Trustworthy Shopping Experience at Amazon noted that success and scale brings broad responsibility and explained how Amazon applies that mindset in practice.


The plenary session "Inside the Room(s) Where It Happens – Fostering Organizational Understanding for the New Landscape of CPSC Enforcement" moderated by Matt Howsare from Cooley featured Jana Fong-Swamidoss, Chief of Staff at the CPSC on the panel. We heard about the importance of understanding the current CPSC enforcement landscape and effectively communicating the associated risks within an organization.


"Protecting Consumers in an Expanding Secondhand Market" was moderated by Tracey Kelly from Ikea and featured Jen Sultan, Deputy Director, Office of Compliance and Field Operations at the CPSC on the panel. This issue is broader than the sale of secondhand products online - we also need to think about the safety of secondhand products sold in thrift stores, yard sales or passed on between family members. Digital Product Passports could be a helpful tool to communicate information about products that have been recalled.


The hot topic of PFAS was covered in the plenary session "Say Goodbye to PFAS: What product manufacturers can expect from regulatory initiatives on PFAS" and the breakout session "Toxicology, chemical, and human factors/risk communication perspectives on the rapidly evolving PFAS landscape". Regulation of PFAS is largely uncoordinated globally, creating confusion for manufacturers working to modify the material composition of their products, or in some cases completely redesign products to comply with requirements across various jurisdictions. Panelists discussed challenges and ways to mitigate risks of non-compliance.


The plenary session "Developing Safe and Sustainable Consumer Products: Materials and Product Considerations" was moderated by Xiao Chen from Intertek and featured Pinuccia Contino on the panel. This session considered how safety and sustainability can and should work together. Sustainable raw materials can bring opportunities and innovations, but integrating them into product design at a late stage can be costly. An interdisciplinary and collaborative approach is key - it's critical that ESG teams are multidisciplinary and do not work in silos.


Cybersecurity was tackled during the session "The Intersection of Cybersecurity and Safety for Consumer IoT Products" moderated by Michael Fagan of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Technology gives consumers greater autonomy, but creates greater vulnerabilities. It's important to think about unexpected hazards coming out of the proliferation of IoT consumer products, if the compromise of certain features can create safety issues and how to deal with products that customers may continue to use beyond the support period.


The plenary session "Going Above and Beyond: the role of voluntary safety pledges for the future of online safety" was moderated by Ed Turtle from Cooley and featured Brigitte Acoca from the OECD, Geoff Barrett, Director, Risk Management Bureau, Consumer Product Safety Program at Health Canada and Clay Marquez from Amazon. This topic was also discussed by the panel in the breakout session "EU GPSR – Product Safety for Providers of Online Marketplaces" where Pinuccia Contino from the European Commission noted that pledges can be a laboratory for future policy.


Over 20 different breakout sessions covered a wide-range of hot topics including Digital Product Passports, impacts of the EU's new General Product Safety Regulation, use of AI and other digital innovations in product safety, CPSC's eFiling, Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable presented by two former CPSC Commissioners, balancing regulatory obligations and stakeholders expectations for sustainability, lithium-ion battery fires, plus more.


This year's event also featured accredited CLE sessions as well as poster presentations. Another highlight was the chance to speak with other product safety professionals from around the world during the networking breaks.


The ICPHSO 2024 North America Product Safety Training Workshop is taking place June 26, 2024 hosted by Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas. The ICPHSO 2024 International Symposium is taking place October 16-17, 2024 in conjunction with the European Commission's International Product Safety Week in Brussels. Visit the ICPHSO website ( for more information.


Dispatch from the EU is a monthly feature provided exclusively for PSL subscribers by Cooley LLP, For further information about the above, contact Rod Freeman at