Port Surveillance News: CPSC Uses Pilot Risk Assessment Tool to Strengthen Import Safety Program

Dec 02, 2013, 16:37 ET from U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A state-of-the-art risk assessment tool gives the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) an edge in its mission to protect American consumers from products that violate U.S. safety rules or that are found to be defective.

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The risk assessment methodology (RAM) pilot targeting system allows CPSC investigators to analyze data provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and identify high-risk shipments of consumer products arriving at U.S. ports of entry, and then make calculated and effective decisions about which shipments to inspect.

The RAM helped CPSC investigators and their CBP counterparts to screen more than 12,400 different imported consumer product shipments from the start of the 2013 fiscal year (FY) in October 2012 to the end of the second quarter in March 2013. The screenings led to the identification of about 680 shipments containing violative or defective products, totaling about 6.1 million units -- all of which CPSC and CBP prevented from moving into the U.S. stream of commerce and into the hands of consumers.

About 600 of the product shipments stopped in the first half of FY 2013 were children's products totaling about 1.2 million units.  This compares to approximately 450 product shipments stopped with a total of 900,000 units during the same period in FY 2012.

In addition to protecting American consumers from potential harm, CPSC's import surveillance program has prevented various importers and retailers from having to carry out costly recalls.

In the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, investigators seized a shipment of nearly 28,000 toy baby bottles. The bottles, imported by Dollar Tree (Greenbriar International), were cited for a small parts violation. The nipples on the bottles were easily removed and fit into a small parts cylinder, a device used to determine if a toy piece is small enough to fit in the throat of a small child. CPSC technical staff determined that the products appealed to children younger than 3 years of age.

"Had this product not been caught at import, CPSC would have called upon Dollar Tree to conduct a consumer-level recall," said Acting Chairman Robert Adler. "In addition to the value of the shipment, the retailer would have had to pay for all of the expenses associated with the recall."

The RAM pilot also allows CPSC to recognize compliant, low risk cargo to prevent these shipments from being delayed at the ports. CPSC and CBP also work collaboratively on the Import Safety Assessment-Product Safety (ISA-PS) trusted trader program.

Although the program is still in the pilot phase, the agency hopes to secure funding to expand the RAM program in the future.

CPSC has been screening products at ports since the agency began operating in 1973. The agency intensified its efforts in 2008 with the creation of an import surveillance division and again in 2011 with the creation of the Office of Import Surveillance.

The Import Stoppage Report and the table of Violative Products Seized at the Port during the 1st and 2nd quarter 2013 are available at http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2014/CPSC-Uses-Pilot-Risk-Assessment-Tool-to-Strengthen-Import-Safety/

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SOURCE U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission