What Is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)?

Consumer Product Safety Commission is a U.S. government agency that protects the American public from products that may create a potential hazard to safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission focuses on consumer products that pose an unreasonable risk of fire, chemical exposure, electrical malfunction, or mechanical failure. Products that expose children to danger and injury are also a high priority. The Consumer Product Safety Commission investigates complaints from consumers concerning unsafe products, and also issues recalls of products that may be defective or violate mandatory standards.

Understanding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

This agency, created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act, keeps a watchful eye over products such as power tools, cribs, toys, household chemicals and cigarette lighters. It is an independent federal regulatory agency whose charter includes the following tasks:

  • To work with industry to develop voluntary product standards
  • To issue mandatory standards when required, or ban specific products where no standard would provide adequate public protection
  • To enforce standards and issue recalls or repair orders whenever necessary
  • To conduct independent research on potential hazards
  • To respond to consumer inquiries and complaints regarding specific products
  • To inform and educate consumers through the media and government channels

CPSC Recalls

One of the agency's main missions is recalls of unsafe products. Nearly all of these are voluntary recalls in which the manufacturer agrees to remove the product from store shelves and issue refunds to those who have already bought the items. In rare cases, the agency issues a mandatory recall when the manufacturer or distributor can't or won't act. In 2018 recalls have been issued for items including bicycles, baby strollers, propane tanks and electric chargers.

The public database, saferproducts.gov, has recall information on thousands of products. "Through SaferProducts.gov, consumers, child service providers, health care professionals, government officials and public safety entities can submit reports of harm (Reports) involving consumer products. Manufacturers (including importers) and private labelers identified in Reports will receive a copy of the Report, and have the opportunity to comment on them. Completed Reports and manufacturer comments are published online at www.SaferProducts.gov for anyone to search," the agency stated.

The CPSC's Pool Safely is a national public education campaign that works with partners around the country to reduce child drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas.

The agency also maintains ATV Safety Info Center, which urges riders to keep all ATVs off paved public roads. Every year, there are about 650 deaths and 100,000 injuries involving ATVs, the agency said.