Companies should have robust procedures in place so they can quickly respond to the receipt of information concerning the safety of their product(s). Last month, we posted an article about best practices for collecting safety complaint data, which focused on how to gather and save data when a consumer safety complaint comes through the door. Below is a bigger picture checklist to ensure all teams within a firm—legal, compliance, engineering/design, manufacturing, and marketing—are aligned and all bases are covered when a potential product safety issue arises.
Consumer Safety Complaint Checklist
- Immediately alert the appropriate regulatory, compliance, and legal personnel as designated by company policy.
- Immediately determine any applicable reporting obligations under the Consumer Product Safety Act or other applicable statutes and regulations.
- Collect, review, and assess any customer service, marketing, engineering, supply chain, or other relevant records; and preserve materials which may be considered evidence.
- Have counsel determine whether it is necessary to communicate the issue to supply chain partners.
- Conduct outreach to the team responsible for designing the product at issue in order to determine whether safety issues were anticipated in the design process.
- Confirm that the product has been tested, classified, and labeled properly in observance of all applicable regulations and industry best practices.
- Consult with legal counsel about whether a stop sale or similar measures should be taken.
- Do not ignore or bury the complaint and/or potential issue and hope that it goes away.
- Do not accept liability for any incidents involving your product before a thorough investigation can be conducted.
- Do not consent to a search of any facilities or seizure of any materials unless instructed by a signed warrant.
- Do not deploy public relations or other external messaging in response to a product issue before legal counsel is involved and overseeing all communications.
Time is of the essence when dealing with consumer safety complaints. Taking immediate action helps significantly minimize liability to both consumers and the government. Be sure to train and prepare the appropriate personnel to be ready to hit the ground running if a consumer safety complaint is received.