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Best Practices for Consumer Product Safety Management
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Objective/scope: Understanding the Collective Wisdom of the best practices within companies for assuring and monitoring safety of consumer products.

Expert Panel: 12 experts, recently retired from senior management product safety positions from 6 of top 40 (3 in the top 10) largest consumer product companies.

35 Questions (Preview all survey questions)

Findings comprise 105 pages in downloadable PDF.

Assuring the safety of consumer goods is a critical function that all consumer product companies constantly strive to manage, especially in these days of increased scrutiny and social activism.  There are many ways to achieving safe products, monitor for safety claims once in the marketplace, and approaches to defending brands, and/or changing formulations in the face of consumer demands.  This report provides insights on how the best companies choose to face these challenges.  SciPinion, L.L.C. has undertaken the task of ascertaining the ‘Collective Wisdom’ of best practices for consumer product safety management.  To do this, SciPinion engaged 12 experts who previously worked for well recognized consumer goods companies.  SciPinion asked these experts the tough questions, to which the experts provided valuable insight on how their former employers managed product safety, and, in hindsight, how they would change their practice going forward.  The experts also provide valuable advice for how small to medium sized consumer products companies can implement product safety management practices.  These insights now can guide your company on how best to implement management practices to assure your products are safe and you maximize efficiency in the process.

Example answer from a single expert and single question (“What advice would you give a small to medium sized consumer products company for implementing a minimal product safety management practices program?”)

First of all, the small to medium sized consumer products company must be based on several basic principles:

  • Do the right thing, always tell the truth
  • Integrity of consumers goes first, before business
  • Obey the law and the spirit of the law I saw many times that difficult decisions paid–off on the long run in terms of business.

If the company has the right foundation, Safety will have the right support and financial funding to adequately fulfill its role.

The basics of the Safety organization follow:

  • Hire qualified personnel.
  • Train and develop your personnel
  • Be flexible with clear boundaries
  • Promote innovation, freedom of speech
  • Promote teamwork in your organization. No single person knows everything
  • Keep records and databases: “If it is not in writing, it did not happen”
  • Retain an experienced Safety/Regulatory consultant to provide external unbiased input in making strategic decisions.
  • Make decisions with a long term horizon. Short term gains may negatively impact business on the long run
  • Have a mid to long term pipeline of projects with clear timelines so that Safety can provide input very early on in the project. If it is a “no-go” it has to be as early as possible. Sometimes stopping a project is the best thing that can happen to a project. The earlier, the better.
  • Become part of key trade associations who have reputable scientific / technical committees to stay abreast of/influence upcoming regulations/tendencies. Once regulations are published in the Federal Register there is little margin to maneuver and highly likely, it will affect your business.
  • Become a citizen of the world. Look at least at what the European Union is doing because many tendencies come from there. Look at China as well because of the size and growth of that market

Safety has to be a Corporate Function to:

  • provide expertise to the business unit that requires it
  • apply knowledge and experience acquired in one business to another one
  • be independent from business decisions and pressures

If products reach the environment, Environmental Safety must be staffed Safety must reside within Research & Development, so that there is technical/scientific critical mass. Organizationally, Safety should be integrated at the highest level of corporate management.

This SciPi survey would be a very valuable reference since it gathers knowledgeable persons in the field, with different points of view/experiences/backgrounds.

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