SaferProducts.gov enables consumers, government agencies, public safety groups, health care professionals, and child service providers to report dangerous products and search the reports that others have submitted.
In a report, “SaferProducts.gov: Five Years Live,” five consumer groups – the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Kids In Danger, Public Citizen, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group – say the database offers important information anyone buying products for children, relatives, or friends this holiday season.
The consumer groups’ report analyses eight items, including which manufacturers and products have the most reports of harm in about 29,000 reports submitted in five years.
Findings show that reports of harm in SaferProducts.gov are concentrated in a few specific manufacturers and product types. The groups found:
- Many reports of harm are concentrated among 10 manufacturers. Almost 40 percent of the reports are for products from 10 manufacturers, with the rest spread out among 3,802 other manufacturers.
- Appliances make up a large percentage of reports among the top 10 manufacturers. Of about 11,000 reports referencing one of the top 10 manufacturers, 72 percent involve the “appliances” subcategory. Ranges or ovens of various types make up the vast majority of these reports with “electric ranges or ovens” comprising the largest segment, 34 percent, of the top 10 product types reported.
- 31 percent of reports document injury.
- More than half of the 90 fatalities reported involved children aged 12 or under.
- Less than half of the published reports in SaferProducts.gov include manufacturer comments in response.
Suggested improvements for SaferProducts.gov
While the consumer groups said SaferProducts.gov is easy to use and provides helpful information, they recommend the following improvements for the database:
- Increase promotion of the site. Additional outreach and training is needed to increase submissions by the public and healthcare professionals.
- Expand the data sources included in SaferProducts.gov. There are a variety of additional commission databases, such as staff investigations, Medical Examiners and Coroners Alert Project, and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System that would increase the value of SaferProducts.gov if they were able to exchange data.
- Release overall reports on data trends. SaferProducts.gov contains useful data, and the commission should compile and release an annual report identifying the trends in harm posed by products in the database.
- Improve data categories and searchability. Adding larger categories such as “all children’s products” – in addition to the existing categories – would make analyzing the data easier. In addition, a searchable field for the type of harm documented would be enable consumers and researchers to better use the database.
“While many parents, grandparents, and caregivers check with friends and others before buying a child related product, SaferProducts.gov provides access to nearly 30,000 reports on a wide variety of products,” said Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel at Consumer Federation of America. “Researching holiday gifts on SaferProducts.gov before you buy is a great way to protect your loved ones.”