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Defective products and work injuries: the need for disclosure

Construction projects and other worksites can be dangerous for numerous reasons. Some of those reasons involve employers' failure to establish and follow adequate safety precautions on the job site itself.

But another key reason why people get hurt on the job in Maryland and around the country is defective products. In order to prevent such accidents, it is therefore important that product manufacturers and federal safety regulators be open and honest when concerns about products arise.

That is why the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is considering changing the process by which the public gets informed about investigation into reports of defective products.

Under current policy, manufacturers can, to a considerable degree, restrict the ability of the CPSC to disclose critical information about them. If prompted by the media, the CPSC may say that an investigation is underway. But the agency gives the product makers 10 days to review the proposed language of any statements released to the public beyond the mere existence of an investigation.

The problem with this policy is that it may allow workers and others to continue to be injured by defective products, even when additional steps could have been taken to prevent injuries.

At a recent CPSC Safety Academy held in Bethesda, the agency said it was considering changing the policy of always allowing a 10-day response period for manufacturers before sharing more complete information with the public.

Not surprisingly, the National Association of Manufacturers warned of a rush to judgment by the CPSC. More specifically, the concern was that disclosure of negative information could tarnish product brands.

This is scarcely a reason, however, to fail to disclose critical information in a timely manner.

Source: "CPSC Considers Slight Change to Policy of Announcing Defects; World Ends," Safety, 10-5-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on defective workplace equipment in Maryland.

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