Why You Should Care About Product Safety

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Imagine the scenario. You’ve just closed a mighty profitable deal with your biggest client, and while you’re still up in the clouds of financial prosperity, you get notified that all the 1,000 items you sold ended up being defective. Even worse – they’re poisonous, because of the highly concentrated lead content found in the products. That gives you at least 1,000 reasons for your client to never do business with you again, 1,000 reasons for you to reconsider your supplier, and 1,000 reasons for you to come back down to earth. Clearly, this was a very far-out stroke of bad luck, but for those of us working with promotional products, the risks of non-compliance are much higher.

“Well this is great to know, but shouldn’t a supplier worry about these problems?”

Yes and no. A supplier is undeniably held accountable to produce safe items for distribution, but distributors have direct contact with consumers, so they share the responsibility of addressing these concerns. There are plenty of reasons for you to engage in compliance measures, but probably the biggest one is the pressure of differentiation in our hyper-competitive environment. When you run a socially responsible business, you put the spotlight on what matters most – your dedication to customers. If you can honestly attest the safety of each transaction, you increase clients’ buying confidence, gain repeat business opportunities and strengthen your brand reputation.

“I’m interested, now where do I start with product safety?”

There are several organizations that oversee the direction of our industry’s social responsibility measures, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) accreditation and Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), who advocate the supplier and distributor corporate responsibility. But, you can also take an internal initiative to protect your business operations and ensure the safety of your clients. Take note of the following triggers, that can save you the agony of dealing with a loss of revenue, due to a faulty sale.                                                                                                     

Commonly Defective Items

When putting in the next wholesale order for your client, quickly reference if any of their desired products fall under any of the below mentioned categories. If they do, you can determine whether or not you need to implement testing procedures or ask the supplier to provide a certificate of QCA, to vouch for product safety.

  1. Children’s products any toys designed for kids 12 years of age or younger.
  2. Products that may contain lead, mercury or arsenicthese items can range from electronics, to cosmetics, and to even jewelry.
  3. Products subject to FDA regulation– certain foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical products that require FDA approval.

State Regulations

When dealing with product shipment on a national level, you should always be aware of state regulations that measure product safety for all commercial enterprises. You don’t have to memorize the list of all the below state propositions, but keeping it on hand can save you the hassle of legal protocol maintenance.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, Illinois

If your products get shipped to any of the above states, they may be subject to the following regulations:

Bisphenol-a (BPA) –  an industrial chemical used primarily to make plastic and epoxy resins. 

California Proposition 65 (Prop 65) –  a proposition that protects the state’s drinking water sources from being contaminated with unknown chemicals.

California Safer Consumer Product Legislation (SCP)a law that requires responsible entities to seek safer alternatives to harmful chemical ingredients in widely used products.

Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Acta labeling law that covers children’s jewelry, toys, and child care articles sold in the State of Illinois.

Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) –  a multi-state non-profit organization that is committed to environmental and economic sustainability.

Polybag Suffocation Warning Labels – state administered legislation with regard to placing warning labels on plastic bags.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)a guide that restricts the use of six hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products.

Rhode Island Jewelry Legislation a law that establishes the requirements and test methods for commercial jewelry intended for use by children 12 years old or younger.

Washington State Children’s Safe Product Act  – an initiative that requires manufacturers of children’s products to report if their product contains a chemical of high concern to children.

Standard Requirements and QCA

Depending on which search medium you use to locate your desired products, you should always opt for products that can meet your mandatory requirements, and if possible, for suppliers who have a QCA Accreditation. Make sure your product research software can give you the option to filter search results based on your needed standard of choice. And if you aren’t sure if that’s something your software provider can offer, consider looking into SAGE Online, and its robust product filtering parameters that include “FDA,” “OSHA,” “USDA,” as some of the most common standard options, as well as criteria that can fulfill a specific initiative, such as “Eco-Friendly”, “Recyclable” as well as “Product Safety Aware” item options.

Our industry is always growing and is dependent upon everyone involved to oversee its prosperity for years to come. If we start taking the initiative on product safety and compliance now, the world of promotional products will be a reputable and professional environment when our children and grandchildren take over the marketplace and run our legacy businesses.

“This can really help my business, how do I stay up to date on promotional products safety news?”

If you want to stay in the loop of all breakthroughs concerning promotional product responsibility initiatives, explore the benefits of becoming a PPAI member, and join the community of promotional products professionals who receive organizational support through legislative action, third party discounts, awards, and more. Even better, under the Power of Two alliance, as soon as you become a recognized member of PPAI, you are eligible for a free SAGE Total Access subscription, that can help your business remain competitive for years to come. Already a SAGE subscriber? A PPAI membership is included with your Total Access subscription!

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Yuliya is the newest addition to our team of innovative visionaries. At least that’s what we imagine our name plate descriptions being! When she isn’t rereading her favorite Dostoevsky novel, you can find her rationalizing the lifelong relationship between prose and imagery.

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