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CPSC Wants Safer Batteries, But Admits to Limitations

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Jan 25, 2017, 8:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

In the wake of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 recall, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission hopes to see more safeguards put in place with respect to battery-powered products. The CPSC commended Samsung and its carrier partners for the successful recall of the Note7, which has so far enjoyed a 97% return rate, but noted that the majority of the annual 400 consumer product safety recalls "result in a frustratingly and dangerously low consumer response rate." The agency plans to improve its ability to asses high-density battery technology and spot gaps in safety standards moving forward, and at the same time warned that the agency has limited capacity to handle such tasks. "CPSC is a vital health and safety agency, but we have nowhere near the resources and people power that Samsung does. Not even close," said Chairman Elliot F. Kaye in a statement. "In fact, Samsung employed more engineers and staff to work on just this issue than CPSC has employees at our entire agency. At a minimum, industry needs to learn from this experience and improve consumer safety by putting more safeguards in place during the design and manufacturing stages to ensure that technologies run by lithium-ion batteries deliver their benefits without the serious safety risks." Samsung this week explained that the Note7 was impacted by two separate battery flaws. The flaws led the device to sometimes overheat and catch fire. The company was forced to cancel the device in September 2016 and recall some 2.5 million units worldwide.

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