United In Safety: Highlights From The ICPHSO Annual Meeting

 

Each year, the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) holds its Annual Meeting And Training Symposium, bringing together global health and safety professionals to participate in discussions that further enhance the safety of consumer products throughout the world.

As a neutral forum for product safety stakeholders to learn, network and share information, this year’s event was the largest to date with attendance topping more than 850 people. Attendees represented a vast cross-section of professionals, including industry leaders from the manufacturing, import and retail sectors; members of the legal community; consumer representatives; trade associations; academia; health and service providers; test labs; recall specialists; and federal, state, and local regulators from around the globe.

This year’s theme, “United for Safety,” reflects the unique standing of ICPHSO as the only global organization that brings together a diverse array of product safety stakeholders. QCA has had a presence at the ICPHSO Annual Meeting for several years with Tim Brown, MAS, QCA’s executive director of operations, in attendance along with Dee Fenton, QCA’s executive director of compliance, serving on the ICPHSO board of directors (front row, third from the left). 

With regulators being present, many attendees concentrated on getting the latest information about upcoming changes to standards, regulations, etc. While meeting regulatory standards is important, it’s not the only piece of the pie when it comes to overall brand safety. 

“Many attendees are very focused on compliance for their own products and often do not think to include indirect procurement spend such as promotional products in the mix,” Tim says. “Through conversations, we are able to shed a new light on compliance and responsible sourcing for branded merchandise, allowing them to look at the issues differently.” 

One of the highlights of this year’s event was the breakout session titled Compliance Officer: Company Super Hero or Company Super Villain, which dealt with implementing “harmonious cross-functional relationships within the organization” and provided tips for how compliance professionals can gain the trust and support of marketing, procurement and product development. 

“Often these departments avoid the compliance division or work around compliance officers out of fear of being told ‘no,’” Tim explains. “This ‘no’ often occurs at the 11th hour when it is determined that things were not handled correctly and a risk is posed. By working closely with other areas and getting them to include compliance guidelines up-front, compliance officers can stop being viewed as the ‘tower of no’ and instead help the other functional areas achieve their goals.” 

After spending four days with this cross-section of compliance professionals, it’s clear they care about brand safety and are dedicated to responsible sourcing. The challenge is having resources to manage it all—not only for the goods they sell but also for the promotional products they use to build their brands. 

“Since the marketing department typically manages the purchase of promotional products, any information we can share will enable them to add value through brand safety,” Tim says. “This moves the conversation deeper into their organizations, involves multiple areas and helps marketers grow and protect the brand. Overall, as major brands learn more about how compliance applies to their marketing efforts, our industry will need to take heed. It will no longer be business as usual.” 

For even more information about this year’s event, don’t miss these five key takeaways from the folks at Cooley, and see what promotional products practitioners had to say in this recap via PPAI

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