Health Canada has released a guidance document on factors it will consider when determining whether a consumer product poses a “danger to human health or safety”, how this determination affects actions taken by Health Canada, and measures industry members should consider to reduce such dangers.

Under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (“CCPSA”) there is a general prohibition against a manufacturer or importer manufacturing, importing, advertising or selling a consumer product if it poses a “danger to human health or safety”, which is defined as:

any unreasonable hazard – existing or potential – that is posed by a consumer product during or as a result of its normal or foreseeable use and that may reasonably be expected to cause the death of an individual exposed to it or have an adverse effect on that individual’s health – including an injury – whether or not the death or adverse effect occurs immediately after the exposure to the hazard, and includes any exposure to a consumer product that may reasonably be expected to have a chronic adverse effect on human health.

According to Health Canada, a number of factors can influence whether a hazard is “unreasonable”. Hazards arising from consumer products that are inherently hazardous and therefore known to the public are less likely to be considered unreasonable. Hazards from the use of a product that are not commonly known, expected or accepted by the public are more likely to be considered unreasonable. Health Canada also notes that the notion of a product posing an unreasonable hazard can change over time.

We understand Health Canada has been of the view that industry members are under-reporting incidents. In particular, they are concerned that industry members are not reporting incidents resulting from “reasonable hazards”, which may be viewed as falling outside the scope of the definition of “danger to human health or safety” in the CCPSA. The guidance document indicates Health Canada’s view that in some cases known or what may be viewed as “reasonable” hazards may also fall within the definition in the CCPSA.