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Consumer Product Law Blog

Friday, January 15, 2016

Here Comes The Consumer Product Safety Robot

On January 7, 2016 the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) introduced a “robot” to help businesses understand and comply with consumer product safety regulations. No, it does not talk or vacuum, but it can be a big help to small businesses and others trying to comply with numerous CPSC product safety rules created over the last several years.

The CPSC’s “Regulatory Robot” is an on-line tool developed by the CPSC’s Small Business Ombudsman’s Office to assist companies and others in navigating the complex and confusing maze of federal regulatory requirements that apply to consumer products. It provides businesses with necessary compliance information specific to their own products.

The Regulatory Robot is an automated program that is accessible through the CPSC’s website (https://business.cpsc.gov/robot/). It is free and available to anyone 24/7. The service takes the user through a series of questions aimed at identifying the specific nature of the company’s product (i.e., general use or children’s product; plastic product; contains small parts…etc.). The questions progressively narrow down and target the characteristics unique to the product. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

Based on the answers, the Regulatory Robot creates a customized, downloadable report that identifies, by citation and hyperlink, the regulations that may apply to a particular product. The Regulatory Robot further identifies pertinent regulatory exemptions and exceptions. Beyond the product specific information, the Regulatory Robot report also includes lists general requirements that apply to any consumer product - such as certification, reporting and recall requirements.

The downloadable report is date and time stamped. The CPSC, however, does not save either the information entered or the report that is generated. In fact, the user is anonymous to the system except for an option to title the report.

The Regulatory Robot is an innovative tool for any business that must comply with the confusing array of product safety rules. However, the CPSC is careful to include clear disclaimers that the information provided by the Robot should not “be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel as to legal requirements….” In other words, the Regulatory Robot provides guidance but not a “get out of jail free card.”

That said, the Regulatory Robot will likely prove useful to companies in need of a basic understanding of the CPSC’s regulations, and the CPSC will leverage their limited educational resources. All courtesy of a robot.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice. More consumer product safety information is available at http://www.consumerproductlaw.com





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