Whether you are a manufacturer or Amazon Seller, product safety compliance is essential for any business selling products in today’s competitive markets. A comprehensive product safety compliance program can help protect brands, reduce liabilities, and expand sales channels. Companies must understand their product safety obligations and have the right program to ensure compliance with regulations and retailer requirements.
If you are an Amazon Seller, you may think that by using the manage your compliance dashboard, you would have everything you need to follow Amazon’s policies to manage compliance. Amazon states that you must still follow the laws, regulations, and standards. While their tool will guide you through submitting the necessary proof of compliance for your product category, do you have a program in-house to document these same policies and requirements for other retailers? More importantly, do you have all the other items that constitute a compliance program? Anyone wanting to enter new markets or sell with a major retailer is soon asked to provide proof of compliance with specific policies and evidence of training to ensure you consistently make and deliver safe products. You will find this out quickly if you want to sell at Target or Walmart. This is why it I important for you to build a robust compliance program, no matter how small your company, so that it can scale with you when you grow.
The CPSC not only expects companies to have effective compliance programs in place but to be able to document these processes properly. To build a compliance program that scales with your growth, you should, at a minimum, have the following:
Commitment to Compliance
Recognize that your compliance program is dynamic, involving not only multiple policies, procedures, and manufacturing activities but also the commitment of senior management and the support of all employees, contractors, vendors, and agents to make the program effective.
Assignment of a Compliance Manager or Officer
Appoint someone to handle all compliance-related activities; design an escalation policy to show everyone where to go with issues, concerns, or how to report undue influence by publishing contact details and instructions on how to report.
A policy is essential to any compliance program as it establishes the company’s commitment to providing safe products. It outlines the procedures for ensuring all employees follow established testing, labeling, packaging, and distribution protocols. SOPs are detailed instructions on performing various tasks correctly; they help ensure consistency in product development and provide clear guidance for employees. If you sell children’s Products, you will need a material change and undue influence policy with training. Everyone should have an Incident reporting and escalation policy and a recall plan.
Effective Lines of Communication
Establish a dialogue between management and employees so that when seeking answers to questions or reporting potential violations of law or policies, employees or contractors know whom to turn to for a meaningful response and do so without fear of retribution.
Education and Training
Training is crucial in promoting compliance as it ensures employees understand the importance of adhering to safety standards. It should be mandatory for all staff involved in product design, testing, production, marketing, or distribution.
Auditing and Monitoring
Audit your program at least once a year to evaluate the effectiveness of your program and consider pending changes to regulatory or retailer requirements. Doing so lets you determine if gaps in your current system need addressing.
Documentation and Record-keeping
Documentation should begin during the product design phase and include all third-party certification testing, testing of representative samples, material changes, corrective actions, training materials, and training records. Document the work you have done toward complying with the CPSC’s requirements and adhering to the regulations for your products. In the event of a product recall, this documentation will enable you to show the CPSC in helping understand what may have gone wrong to ensure future product safety and compliance. Retention policies should be set to maintain records for each market where you sell. In the U.S., the manufacturer must keep these records for five years, either in hard copy or electronically, such as a website or Framework like Comply PRO+.
A robust compliance program will protect consumers and businesses by reducing their liability when implemented correctly. Additionally, companies should leverage technology to automate processes and ensure all stakeholders are on the same page. The days of having policies in binders where no one can access them are over, and in the post-Covid world of remote work, they need to be accessible to everyone in your organization.
Comply PRO+ was built for Compliance Managers, Executives, and Business Owners. Schedule a Demo today to see how you can quickly build, manage and audit your compliance program to reduce risk and enter new sales channels and markets.