ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ISO COPOLCO Calls for Measures to Enhance Consumer Product Safety


New York, Jun 07, 2006

The Consumer Policy Committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO COPOLCO) is calling for the development of an International Standard that would provide guidance on how to identify, assess and eliminate or reduce risks associated with consumer products to all those involved in the supply chain. According to COPOLCO, such a standard is needed because regulatory authorities and standards writing bodies cannot keep up with the rapid pace of global change in product design, construction and materials and thereby ensure that appropriate safety requirements are in place.

In developed countries, existing regulations and standards often only specify a minimum set of requirements to address known hazards associated with consumer products. In addition, some developing and transitional countries have few if any standards. A standard that provides guidance to suppliers on how to identify potential safety problems and how to address them will lead to an increase in safety, COPOLCO contends. It may also assist government in its role to protect consumers from unsafe products. The recommendations were agreed to at COPOLCO’s 28th meeting held 25-26 May 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In a related development, COPOLCO is calling for the development of an International Standard that would provide guidance on how to establish, implement and manage a consumer product recall program. While a number of countries have legislative or regulatory requirements and provide guidance for business on how to manage a recall, many jurisdictions do not. As a result, there is an uneven and inconsistent approach to consumer product recall worldwide and gaps in consumer protection at the national and international level. An International Standard would help organizations plan and execute timely and cost effective recall programs, minimize legal risks, help protect consumers from unsafe products, and build customer satisfaction and loyalty, COPOLCO maintains.

COPOLCO also is asking ISO to require technical committees to include rationale statements in consumer product safety standards. Rationale statements provide the reasons for the requirements in a standard. Their inclusion is valuable particularly when standards are being updated or revised. In many cases, the membership of the committee changes over time and there is no historical record of the original research that provided the basis for the limits set forth in the standard. Rationale statements will foster greater knowledge and understanding among suppliers, will provide government regulators with information on which to base policy and enforcement decisions, and will promote international harmonization of standards, among other potential benefits, in COPOLCO’s view.

Recognizing that various guides from ISO/IEC already exist that provide guidance on the inclusion of safety and consumer protection aspects in standards, especially among vulnerable populations such as children, the disabled and the elderly, COPOLCO is also requesting ISO to promote awareness and use of these Guides within its standards development committees and the broader marketplace. This includes a recommendation that ISO consider making some of the Guides available free of charge.

Representatives of ANSI and its Consumer Interest Forum were actively involved in the development of the COPOLCO proposals described above which will now go to ISO Council for consideration. For additional information, please contact James McCabe, ANSI director of consumer relations and public policy (jmccabe@ansi.org).

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative