The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent federal regulatory agency created to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with some 15,000 types of consumer products. CPSC uses various means to inform the public. These include local and national media coverage, publication of numerous booklets and product alerts, a website, a tele-phone Hotline, the National Injury Information Clearinghouse, CPSC’s Public Information Center and responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. CPSC staff participates in voluntary standards activities for a variety of products ranging from children’s products to heating units to bicycles to paper shredders.
For more than 30 years CPSC has operated a statistically valid injury surveillance and follow-back system known as the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). The primary purpose of NEISS has been to provide timely data on consumer product-related injuries occurring in the U.S. NEISS injury data are gathered from the emergency departments of 100 hospitals selected as a probability sample of all U.S. hospitals with emergency departments. The system’s foundation rests on emergency department surveillance data, but the system also has the flexibility to gather additional data at either the surveillance or the investigation level. Surveillance data enable CPSC analysts to make timely national estimates of the number of injuries associated with (not necessarily caused by) specific consumer products. These data also provide evidence of the need for further study of particular products. Subsequent follow-back studies yield important clues to the cause and likely prevention of injuries.