THE ROBINSON REPORT #13: Don’t Gamble on Safety – #InnovationAndSafety #CES2016

Happy New Year!

Last week, I attended the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest annual convention in Las Vegas. This year, over 176,000 people attended the event, and over 3,600 companies showed their products on over 2.2 million square feet of exhibition space. I had never been to CES before, and I was very impressed by the wide variety of innovative technologies and designs and the entrepreneurial spirit of the start-ups, as well as the innovations of long-established companies. So many of the products at the show, especially those geared towards children, are under CPSC’s jurisdiction, and it is essential that we take part and ensure that technological innovation also includes safety considerations from the very beginning of the development of the product.

On a personal note, it was thrilling to me that Mary Barra, the first female CEO of GM, and Ginni Rometty, the first female CEO of IBM, were keynote speakers. My first job out of college in 1973 was with IBM in Flint, Michigan, as one of five women in the U.S. marketing the IBM 370, their then-largest computer, in the manufacturing environment. And, as a young lawyer at my first law firm in Detroit, Michigan, I represented GM in litigation. I never would have believed then that either of these companies would ever be run by a woman, let alone women as superbly qualified as these two. I sometimes forget how much progress we as a society have made during my professional years.

I took advantage of the opportunity at CES to talk to inventors and designers on the showroom floor to let them know about the role of the CPSC, and hear from them whether they did or did not design safety and regulatory compliance into their products. Additionally, I was delighted to have the opportunity to inform entrepreneurs about our Regulatory Robot which was launched during CES by our Small Business Ombudsman’s office. The Robot is a program that is available to the general public and makes it much easier for businesses to ascertain what regulations and standards may apply to their particular products.

It was encouraging to see a robust government presence at the event. In addition to the CPSC, Commissioners and staff from the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other agencies were present at CES. These agencies share a common desire to promote innovation and growth while ensuring that the products and services offered to the American public are safe, compliant, and useful.

Federal Trade Commissioners Brill, Ohlhausen, and McSweeny speaking on a CES 2016 panelA futuristic display of TVs on the showroom floor at CESFederal Communications Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Rielly speaking on a CES2016 panel Mary Barra, President and CEO of General Motors, giving a keynote address at CES2016Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, giving a keynote address at CES2016

Attending CES was a great way to celebrate the New Year. I sincerely believe that ongoing active engagement between CPSC and the business community will help us achieve great progress toward a safer world for consumers. And, since this is the beginning of the new year, I want to remind all of our stakeholders to join us to make consumer products safer. I urge everyone to report product-related incidents through our publicly available and searchable database at www.SaferProducts.gov. When buying new products, receiving used products, or buying second-hand products, please remember to check www.recalls.gov to ensure they have not been recalled. Also, I urge everyone to visit the CPSC’s website for the most relevant safety information. Finally, follow the CPSC and all of the Commissioners on our blogs:
http://onsafety.cpsc.gov/ – CPSC OnSafety blog
http://leadership.cpsc.gov/ – CPSC Commissioner Blogs
and on Twitter:
@RobinsonCPSC
@USCPSC
@CPSCSmallBiz
@ElliotKayeCPSC
@AMBCPSC

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