Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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CPSC Consumer Complaint Database

Summary: CPSC has a database of reported product defects. You can report a defective helmet.

You can report safety complaints about any consumer product on a publicly-accessible Consumer Product Safety Commission database on the web. If you think your helmet failed, fell apart without protecting you or had a readily identifiable defect, you can post that on the web, and it is supposed to appear in the database.

CPSC will process your request, and consult with the manufacturer before posting it. That could mean your post will be edited or even eliminated, and you will have to resort to a blog somewhere instead. But you can still search the database to find out if others have had the same experience--assuming their posts were not zapped.

Here is CPSC's description of how the process works:

Following procedures set up by the law, CPSC will review all online Reports and have five business days to transmit qualifying Reports to the manufacturer, where practicable. Manufacturers then have 10 business days during which they may respond and provide comments and/or claims. At the end of the 10 day period, if all requirements are met, the Report and the manufacturer's comments will be posted on SaferProducts.gov

It is important that consumers provide CPSC with information that is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge. Reports lacking required information will not be published. Similarly, information in a report of harm determined to be materially inaccurate within the 10 days provided to manufacturers to respond will not be published. Reports that potentially contain confidential information will have such information taken out before the report is posted.

Congress included the requirement for the database in the CPSIA act passed in 2008 because the agency's legal structure has resulted in suppressing data on product failures, and long delays in getting information out about product defects that affect consumer safety. The agency's dedicated staff has felt that their hands were tied by that legal structure.

We hope that consumers will take advantage of the database to report helmet defects. There is one caveat for helmet reports--it is not unusual for a helmet to show extensive damage after a hard hit. That is not necessarily an indication that it failed to protect, since the damage is part of the helmet's energy management.

Here is the gateway for accessing the database.