Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode 33 · 3 months ago

How Product Design Innovation Prevents Consumer Injury & Death w/ Marc Schoem


Safety and sustainability have to be built into the design of consumer products from the ground up. Learn how innovation is making products safer and more sustainable.

Hear our conversation with Marc J. Schoem, Executive Director at ICPHSO:

  • The vision and goals of ICPHSO
  • Attaining more preventative design best practices
  • Promoting a regulator community for consumer wellbeing

More information about Marc and today’s topics:

Tune in to Innovation Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Innovation is all around us. In fact, everyone innovates, often unbeknowntes to themselves. Many mistakenly assumed the innovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightning that brings inspiration, or the province of some exceptionally gifted person. This is the myth of innovation. But you can innovate as well. You're listening to innovation nation, the podcast where top executives and industry experts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation. We're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your own innovation. Here's your host, Jasmine Martyr Rosen. Hi. Thanks for joining to zoos Innovation Nation podcast. This is your host, Jasmine March us. Our guest today is Mark Schaum, who is the executive director of EPISO. Welcome, mark, Hi there, thank you for having me. So, why don't you spell out what Exiso stands for? Well, I'd be happy to. If so, is the international consumer product helped and safety organization and it's pronounced. If so, you got it right, and we are a thirty year organization. WILL BE CELEBRATING OUR thirty anniversary in two thousand and twenty three where we facilitate and bring together product consumer product safety professionals and health professionals from around the world to conferences, three conferences a year in order to exchange training, Best Practices, networking and ideas. So this we talk a lot about innovation on this podcast and you consumer products obviously our tied to innovation, but they're also safety issue and you have deep roots in that industry anyway, right having kept a long running the last years career with the consumer product safe to commission prior to joining episode. So let's take it from them. How does innovation factor into what you're working on? Well, you know, with my career at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, I certainly was very involved with various industry organizations and members...

...of industry in an effort to try to discover and improve on best practices, and that include certainly innovation and technology and Exposo. As the exactive director, it's really an extension of what I did for over forty years involving product safety, where you try to bring together not to reinvent what needs to be done with respect to product safety, but to look at what is already in existence, what is out there, and can it be shared among competitors. The consumer product safety area is a very competitive area with respect to manufacturing, retailers, test labs, consultants. There are a lot of interest. But what we try to do is bridge the gap of competition. We try to bring together all the parties so that we can break the barriers down and maybe there's some technology or innovation that can be shared for best practices, with the idea being that we want to prevent injuries and death to consumers, and that's what everybody really want. On some I mean that's the bottom line. Certainly cost is going to be a factor, but if there are technologies or if there are new ways to do things that can be shared among industry members and consumer organizations, we facilitate that process. So that's a very important mission, right, because we talk about innovation and very positive terms, but there can be side effect sometimes, right, that can severely affect people's lives. That so absolutely and and I think that's again the sessions that we hold, in our three conferences that we hold every year, two of them are in North America and one is international. What we try to do is not only show the good, but sometimes you have to show where problem existed. So we'll try to organize a session to take a look back, a critical look back at what went wrong, and what we try to do is not hold anybody responsible. We try to present a clear picture, not taking one side or the...

...other, but giving the actual attendees from various organizations and opportunity to speak. And you know, over the years we've been pretty successful in that. There has been a candid discussion. There can be a frank discussion. If it doesn't take place during the sessions, then we do build in a lot of networking time so there are can be one on one conversations excellence. So in essence, you do facilitate innovation that way, making sure that safety is front and cention. Absolutely. I mean, you know, again, I kind of mentioned that there were some competitiveness within the industry, but when it comes to product safety, I think everybody realizes that the only way you can get advanced or that you can advance product safety is by working together. I mean that's exemplified through ASTM, the voluntary standards organization, and Sepul, you name it to you the said the mean the the work that you do. You bring parties together and you try to present the best picture, the best practice, so that companies won't be caught off guard. What I'm hearing you say is that collaboration leads to a multified effect. Very good, you have a better way with words. Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you. So what are the trends that you've been noticing lately where it comes to consider product safety and innovations? Well, clearly the digital world is taking over. Artificial intelligence and the use of digital technology has been forefront over the last few years. At our conferences we've been featuring some sessions on digital technology as it relates to product safety. Everything that we do at our conferences has to be tied into product safety. So there there are other issues surrounding sustainability that are very popular right now. People are going and looking at sustainability. What we want to remind members and attendees is that you can't can't throw out the product safety aspect when you're considering sustainability. We've been building product safety over the last fifty years,...

...where CPSD was first born or created fifty years ago, and now with sustainability, you want to make sure that when you go back to the drawing board and you're looking at packaging or product development, safety is designed into that product. My understanding is that by definition, if a product is not safe, it's not sustainable. That would probably be due. I think I agree with that most definitely. No, they I mean the other issue I think that's important right now that's affecting everybody in the world is supply chain. And again supply chain issues have been forefront on our conferences as well. Again, because if you can't get a product the normal way or the routine way and if you start cutting corners, does that impact or effect safety? So our point is again to facilitate the conversation. How do you overcome some of the supplied chain challenges that everybody's facing right now and what do you do to ensure safety of that product? I know you recently have the conference. I'm sure a supply change feature prominently. Yes, it was, and it was in February of two thousand and twenty two. It was our first backto in person conference since our last conference in two thousand and twenty so it was an opportunity again to be back in person. We were in the Washington DC area. Our annual conference is a four day conference at the end of February every two years were in Orlando, Florida, and every third year we come to Washington DC, primarily so that we could hopefully of deal to some of the regulators in Washington to also attend and to participate in our conference. CPSC has been a gracious collaborator for a number of years with with Itiso and yes, supply chain sustainability and the ever present and popular recall. Recall effectiveness is always an issue. That's my career, my forty plus year career was recalls and I wish I had the magic answer on how to get a product back out of consumers hands and how to facilitate the the manufacturing process to ensure that it's returned and...

...not using the past. But it does present a challenge and we keep trying to point out best practices. It's interesting. CEPSC, I think, has made huge in roads despite the challenge. Is Right. I know of parents who check products to see if they've been recalled before they purchase, and now there is a huge secondary market, facebook, marketplace, Ebay and others, and I know some people are very avid checkers if it certain product has been on a recall list. Yeah, I'man CPSC has done the tremendous job in facilitating the creation of APPs and ways in which millennials can really check the product while they're shopping, whether they're at a brick and order store and online store or the secondhand market. And that has been the second hand market has been one of our focuses and conferences in the past, just trying to remind parents, remind consumers that you need to check the product and take steps before you purchase it. So definitely that's a it's a challenge and I think CPSC is facing it excellent. Do you have interesting stories of certain products you might share, possibly not even naming the manufacturers? That kind of not really. I mean I can you know over my years there were a number of recalls, high publicly the available recalls. I mean, the thing that kept me up every night, of course, and it keeps up a lot of regulators and companies, is, you know, not knowing what could happen and the way the product is going to be used. So because of that, you worry about a child being injured or killed, but you worry about how a consumers going to use a product. So again, what what we do at episode now and what we've done for the last thirty years is try to talk more preventive rather than reactive. I mean certainly reactive and recalls are going to be a part of the landscape, I think, for years to come, unfortunately. But we want to talk prevention and that's where test labs and consultants and companies are very important, because they can look at a product before it's put out on the market and hopefully somebody's going to be able to look at the... and know from past experience what may go wrong. You know, it's unfortunately, the business I was in it was kind of doom and gloom because I was always looking for the worst of products, not necessarily the best. So now I have the opportunity to see some of the better products and and the innovations that have gone into the development and design, primarily because there's more of a focus now on the design of products being safe. You're seeing academia get involved early on. You're seeing courses being taught to engineers, to design people on how to try to prevent injuries and risks from unsafe products, and that's a positive thing. So that's taken time but it's coming. It's coming. So they're also looking at functional safety. Absolutely, absolutely. I mean again, you try to design out any unsafe issue with a product. If you can't design it out, then you've got to look at what the risk factor is and whether or not a warning or some type of label might be able to overcome the design problem. Generally it's not going to happen because people tend not to look at labels or warnings. So again, the first first line of defense really is try to design the product so that even if it's not used in the way in which it might have been expected but a consumer of somebody else thinks that may be a reasonable way to use it, you want to make sure that no danger is going to arise. So one of you've mentioned a few times regulatures. What aren't the Trans in the regulatory landscape that we're seeing? Well, right now, I think, at least most of the regulator community, I think there's becoming a little bit more strongly enforcement oriented. So I think there's a lot more surveillance looking at products, especially with some of the supply chain delays and issues. I think there is more surveillance at the ports. They're more surveillance and retail and online stores to make sure that the product that is coming in and is being sold is the one that was originally designed in a safe manner. So I think you're seeing stepped...

...up enforcement not only United States but, I think worldwide. I mean I know the UK now is is announcing a number of significant regulatory schemes that they are undertaking with their exit from the EU, and so again, companies need to be aware, not only in the United States but worldwide, what type of regulatory requirements are coming up. And again that role is one that, IFHISO plays. Will have an international symposium in November where we collaborate with the European Commission in the European Union on a two day training and education symposium. So again, our global entrance, our global audience is just as important to us as those in North America where we're based, and there are various trends and things happening globally that not everybody knows about. So we want to bring that to the forefront at our international symposium. Excellent. I now mark, you just smashed an ephascent has been promoting this global collaboration. Are there any absolutely gold standards of safety that certain countries everyly promoting and we should all know about. See, one of the the joys of my job as executive direct ORDICO so is we don't endorse, we don't approve, we try to stay neutral. Our whole being is to bring everybody together, product safety stakeholders together, to talk, to train to educating, to net work. We don't take a position and I'd be, I know I would be giving short shrift to one regulator or another if I were to say that you should look at this one and look at that one. What we try to do is provide a platform so that people can see for themselves what is out there and what they need to follow. So I think that's probably the best approach, that it makes perfect sense. So obviously you're facilitating a conversation and bringing transpantcies so keep people get to learn. That's exactly what we try to do and we've...

...had good collaboration with with global regulators from around the world. So and I think that's important because again, over the last ten, twelve, thirteen years, I think people have seen that you can't just be isolated in your own little country, that you've got to look beyond the borders, you've got to look to see what is happening with consumer products throughout the world, because whatever is affecting consumers in Asia or in Europe will also affect consumers in North America and Australia. So it just takes perfect sense that you collaborate, you talk, you try to come up with best practices. I know one of the challenges over the year has been harmonization of standards and I don't have an easy answer for that. I know we've provided some some sessions to talk about harmonizations and that's not an easy subject, but I think it's an important one that people are at least talking about because it shows and recognizes the need for safety standards. Some are more stringent perhaps and others, but to the extent that regulators and the industry are talking about it, I think that's an important goal and something that we try to recognize at all our conferences. So all our listeners are consumers. What we would dream part two, consumers to be on the lookout for to make sure that they acquire safe products. Well, again, I think you follow the labels, you follow the warnings. If it says it's intended for children three and above, that doesn't necessarily mean if you have a more intelligent child that's too that they can use it, because a labeling may may imply some safety issue or safety reason. And I think you have to look at the data. You have to look at what is out there with respect to a product if you're making a purchase of a children's product. I mean online reviews are rampant. You can look at the various online reviews. There are certain organizations that do rate and evaluate products for safety. So I think again, as purchases are being made, a major conservation should be safety and not only the cost but also the safety and what it can...

...and can't do with respect to your own children. Being in front consumer Wi will is your best trend under the circumstances. Well, that and and you know, you have the agency, you have organization websites, whether it's CPSC or Health Canada or the European Commission. They've got a wealth of information on their websites with respective consumer products, for the most part the ones that have been recalled, but there are also some information there on how to prevent injuries. So I would a conservers to look at the regulator and websites as well and sign up formailing list. I mean I signed up for a number mailing list where I get notifications of products that are problem and at least I can pass outlong to my family that has small children. So I think that's helpful, excellent. So education being formed, seek out information. You guys are doing a tremendous job at it for so thank you for the service and really grateful for having you as a guest on our podcast. Thank you. And the only plug I like to put in is it will be on June twenty two will have a our North America product safety training workshop and it's being hosted by Amazon. So will be at Amazon and Seattle, Washington, and if you look at our website, I see phsoh Dot Org. You can find all the information that you need, but I certainly appreciate what you're doing and thank you for having me. Excellent mark. Let me repeat, your website is IICP HSO DOT org. Check out the training with Amazon. Sounds like a fascinating session. Again, thanks for all you do to promote product safety. Our guest today was Mr Mark Shung, who is the executive director of VIC FA so, and this is your host, Jasmine martual us in. Thanks for joining us. You've been listening to innovation nation. For more subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player or connect with us on Linkedin. Thanks for listening. No.

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