This week, industry compliance and product safety professionals are taking part in PPAI’s virtual Product Responsibility Summit 2021 Direct-2-You (D2U). Beginning Monday, the four-day virtual event explores the business implications, challenges and opportunities of regulatory issues.

“The Product Responsibility Action Group [PRAG], along with PPAI staff, diligently worked this year to bring Summit to industry members and we are looking forward to this year’s version,” says Brian Campbell, vice president of supply chain compliance at distributor 4imprint, and chair of PRAG. “There is a variety of content and our goal was to make sure it speaks to attendees by providing new insight, perspective and information that they have come to expect from Summit in regards to product responsibility. In doing that, we have been able to bring in expert speakers on topics that we felt are timely and relevant.”

Campbell adds, “Additionally, there are end-of-day roundtable sessions where there will be discussions with industry peers about the content. These roundtables provide the benefit of being able to hear from others in similar roles and can be helpful for anyone who attends. Finally, there is a new Logistics Day this year after Summit, that will discuss topics that organizations currently face and will provide knowledge from experts with incredibly interesting insight.”

On Monday morning, Amanda Levitt, a senior associate with Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, whose practice is focused on international trade and customs law, particularly relating to classification and marking/country-of-origin issues, delivered Summit’s opening session, “Forced Labor Enforcement: Sorting Through USG Actions.” Levitt addressed the detention of imported merchandise due to potential forced labor violations, the steps importers can take to ensure there is no forced labor in their supply chain, the legal framework for forced labor and new labor provisions, and options available to importers when their goods are detained.

“Ahead, we can expect more detentions and withhold release orders (WROs), potential new regulations, legislation related to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and possibly forced labor globally,” Levitt said. “For now, importers should consider digging deeper into their supply chain, look out for mandates from buyers to provide traceability documents and audit reports, and for opportunities for exporters with the best traceability and labor standards to gain new business.”

In Monday’s mid-day session, “Prop 65 Settlement Trends and Updates,” Karolyn Helda, managing director of QIMA, a leading provider of supply chain compliance solutions, and Dan Herling, a defense attorney focused on product liability issues relating to consumer products, reviewed the proposed changes to the Prop 65 short form warning, consent decree trends and more.

Later, in the session, “Standard Of Care For Promo,” Rick Brenner, MAS+, president/CEO of Product Safety Advisors, led a panel discussion on best practices for establishing proper standards of care for promotional products. Panelists included Lenny Polakoff, partner at Zagwear Inc.; Susan DeRagon, senior technical consultant at QIMA and David Tai, CEO at TQAChecked. Brenner likened the process to doing the right diagnostic test to determine a medical procedure, as well as a standard process to determine risk assessment and evaluate the hazards. He explained that for many companies, the standard is buying from a supplier they trust whether or not that supplier has expertise in that product or technology.

Tai added, “This standard of care concept has to be seen like insurance—expending money today to cover unknown costs tomorrow … upper management must buy into this concept. The returns won’t be visible to you today, but will cover some major costs if you have to use it.”

DeRagon noted several sources to help industry practitioners evaluate potential hazards related to products, including and to see how consumers are using similar products. She also mentioned that PPAI’s website has 17 protocols for product categories that list U.S. and Canada regulatory requirements from a federal level; these give industry practitioners a place to start building their process.

Summit continues today with sessions exploring recycling material standards and simplified sustainability reports, and a legislative update on regulatory developments. Click here for the schedule and to register for Friday’s Logistics Day.