Developing a model for consumer product safety evaluation
Safety enforcement practitioners within Europe and marketers, designers or manufacturers of consumer products need to determine compliance with the legal test of "reasonable safety" for consumer goods, to reduce the "risks" of injury to the minimum. To enable freedom of movement of products, a method for safety appraisal is required for use as an "expert" system of hazard analysis by non-experts in safety testing of consumer goods for implementation consistently throughout Europe. Safety testing approaches and the concept of risk assessment and hazard analysis are reviewed in developing a model for appraising consumer product safety which seeks to integrate the human factors contribution of risk assessment, hazard perception, and information processing. The model develops a system of hazard identification, hazard analysis and risk assessment which can be applied to a wide range of consumer products through use of a series of systematic checklists and matrices and applies alternative numerical and graphical methods for calculating a final product safety risk assessment score. It is then applied in its pilot form by selected "volunteer" Trading Standards Departments to a sample of consumer products. A series of questionnaires is used to select participating Trading Standards Departments, to explore the contribution of potential subjective influences, to establish views regarding the usability and reliability of the model and any preferences for the risk assessment scoring system used. The outcome of the two stage hazard analysis and risk assessment process is considered to determine consistency in results of hazard analysis, final decisions regarding the safety of the sample product and to determine any correlation in the decisions made using the model and alternative scoring methods of risk assessment. The research also identifies a number of opportunities for future work, and indicates a number of areas where further work has already begun.