Have you heard about recent recalls of tainted pet food involving food safety? How about toy recalls involving possible lead paint exposure? Have you heard about even more toy recalls involving choking hazards for small children? How about laptop computer batteries recalled due to a fire hazards? After hearing about all of these recalls, do you believe that consumer products are safer or more dangerous today when compared to years past?
I hear two different perspectives about product safety. First, I hear that litigation risks have forced companies to voluntarily recall products which would not have been recalled in past years. I hear people argue that safety risks involving a small percentage of consumers should not form a basis for product recall decisions. Alternatively, I hear that consumer products are increasingly becoming more dangerous as manufacturers outsource product design and assembly to locations which do not prioritize product safety.
What do you think? Do you believe products are safer today than they were twenty years ago? Do you believe that the dangers have not changed but that companies simply disclose more information today than twenty years ago? Should information disclosure and product recalls continue or should we simply make our own decisions to buy products instead relying on sellers and manufacturers to design and manufacture them safely? Do you trust that product manufacturers and sellers in business to make a profit will always design and market safe products? When confronted with less costly yet less safe design alternatives, absent some form of accountability, will sellers and manufacturers always choose safety over the bottom line? I’d like to hear your thoughts.