Home is where the heart is, but there may be a growing amount of danger there as well. A recent analysis of product recalls and injury reports found that more household products are being recalled and at-home consumers are being injured at increased rates.
Since 2013, the company Stericycle has produced a quarterly Recall Index report that analyzes recall data from publicly available sources. Stericycle analyzes data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to the company’s Q1 2017 Recall Index, the number of incidents of people injured by defective household products in the first quarter of 2017 rose to their highest levels in two decades. Injuries reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) jumped 141 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Incidents also increased 379 percent to 16,649, which is higher than any single quarter and any full year since at least 1997.
While the number of consumer products recalled decreased compared to the previous quarter, products for the home and family “posed disproportionate dangers”. The product categories Home Furnishings/Fixtures; Housewares; Toys; and Child Nursery Equipment & Supplies accounted for more than 75 percent of all consumer products recalled:.
Falling hazards from products such as faulty baby strollers, swing sets, and patio chairs accounted for the highest percentage of recalled units (39 percent). Other leading hazards included products that caused lacerations (27.4 percent), gas leaks (10.1 percent), and choking hazards (8 percent).
“The phrase ‘home sweet home’ may be challenged as a result of these findings,” said Michael Good from Stericycle in a press release about the report. “While consumer product recall levels have remained relatively flat, the number of problems reported to the CPSC has skyrocketed. A higher risk of harm also carries a greater risk of brand damage and legal liability. Manufacturers need to be prepared for the inevitability of a product recall.”
There is a value in taking results like these with a grain of salt. Recalls happen whenever it is discovered that a product needs to be recalled. A product can be sold and in use for years before issues are discovered. Variations in recalls rates can’t be used to make blanket statements about products becoming safer over time, or the inverse. This is something the report authors acknowledge.
“At Stericycle we like to say that only three things are certain: death, taxes, and recalls. The Q1 2017 Recall Index confirms the variable nature of recalls quarter to quarter,” added Good. “The key lesson is that now is the time for manufacturers to prepare, because we know from experience that this kind of lull doesn’t last and could be quickly followed by a surge in the next quarter.”
Though it can’t be used to predict the level of recall activity, there are reasons for business owners, especially manufacturers, to pay attention to reports such as the Recall Index. This sort of analysis can be used to see trends about future issues that can lead to recalls; make sense of the current regulatory environment for an industry; and see which recalls have the greatest impact on consumers.
The full version of the Q1 2017 Recall Index has a lot of useful information and can be downloaded from the Stericycle website.