ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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SAFE Circle Conference Aims to Keep Companies on the Leading Edge of Safety

New York, Oct 08, 2002

Today, safety standards exist for an expansive array of consumer products. American National Standards (ANS), which are those voluntary consensus standards created by ANSI-accredited standards developers, help to make it clear how to improve the safety of products for the protection of consumers. Not only do consumers benefit from enhanced reliability and safety, but industry can also benefit by avoiding recalls, saving money, and gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace by building safety into their products.

ANSI is not the only organization watching out for consumer safety. Safer America for Everyone (SAFE) is a non-profit organization working to promote the safety of consumers by working with companies to make products safer. SAFE recently announced its SAFE Circle conference to help organizations keep up with the latest issues in product safety. The event will be held January 15-16, 2003 in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Founded by Ann Brown, former Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), SAFE is built on the principles of the CPSC and aims to save lives and prevent injuries for America's families and children. A new program of SAFE, the SAFE Circle promotes and publicizes good product safety practices, educates business about safety, encourages companies to adopt forward-looking safety practices, and recognizes outstanding corporate safety behavior. The SAFE Circle builds on the work of the Product Safety Circle, which Ann Brown initiated at the CPSC.

The CPSC is an independent federal regulatory agency that works to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products. The CPSC accomplishes this by developing voluntary standards with industry; issuing and enforcing mandatory standards or banning consumer products if no feasible standard would adequately protect the public; facilitating product recalls; and conducting research and consumer education efforts. According to the Consumer Product Safety Act, the CPSC is mandated to rely upon voluntary consensus consumer product safety standards rather than promulgate its own standards. ANSI members such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International) and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) have partnered with the CPSC to establish standards protecting public health affecting products from toys and playground equipment to washing machines and carbon monoxide detectors. (See related story on international consumer safety standards issues.)

Barbara Rosenfeld, vice chairman of SAFE, is a new member of ANSI's Consumer Interest Forum, which is composed of knowledgeable representatives from consumer organizations, producers, retailers, distributors, industry councils and government. The Consumer Interest Forum is dedicated to facilitating the representation of consumer interests in the voluntary consensus standards process.

"The best way ANSI can provide for standards that meet consumer needs is to have consumers involved in the standard formation process," said Jim McCabe, ANSI director of consumer relations and member services. "Consumer involvement in standardization promotes safer, healthier and more environmentally sound products and services, and it increases consumer confidence in the quality and reliability of the products and services that they purchase."

"SAFE's target audience comprises companies that manufacture, import, distribute or retail consumer products and are concerned about safety," said Rosenfeld. "One of the highlights of the SAFE Circle conference will be a panel of experts in legal, media relations and governmental affairs who will discuss how a hypothetical company should -- and should not -- respond to critical safety issues that arise, as well as the ramifications of the actions the company might take in response."

The conference will be hosted by McDonald's Corporation, a SAFE Circle member. For additional information, contact Lynn Barclay at or 202-756-4800. More detailed information can be found at the SAFE web site.

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