Business groups bitterly opposed the Consumer Product Safety Commission's new publicly accessible product-injury database, SaferProducts.gov. It was designed to enable consumers to quickly report injuries linked to products such as toys, cribs, and household appliances - things that are usually safe but that occasionally come with dangerous defects - and to enable other consumers to search for such reports if they have particular concerns about an item.
It's too soon to tell if the new database, which posted its first reports on April 2, 2011, will significantly reduce the lag time between discovery of a defect and a product's recall, or encourage manufacturers to monitor their own products more aggressively. But a report today from the Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger and Consumers Union suggests that the database is working largely as intended.
You can find the report here. Rachel Weintraub, senior counsel at the CFA, says that the vast majority of 6,000 reports in the first 10 months involve newer, well-identified products and reports from consumers themselves, in contrast to opponents' warnings that third-party advocates would clog the database and that manufacturers would be harmed by vague gripes involving older products.
"It’s not someone talking about their 30-year-old refrigerator in the basement," says Weintraub, who notes that 84 percent of the injuries are linked to products identified by model names or serial numbers. "It’s definitely providing more information to the public, it's providing more information to the CPSC, and it's providing more information to manufacturers to evaluate the real-world use of their products."