Online or Mail Order Shopping – A Reminder for Responsible Shopping and Product Safety

By September 28, 2011 Uncategorized

Most people have seen, at one time or another, ads for new children’s products or household/personal use products on the television, or online, with what appears to be an ‘amazing’ deal… those famous ‘limited time offers’ with the amazing deal to ‘purchase now and you’ll get two products for the price of one’.Shoppers need to keep in mind that it’s not always just about the ‘deal’.

When shopping online or via mail, shoppers need to keep in mind that some products may be prohibited in your home country and others still may have special safety requirements that are actually more strict than the safety requirements for the same product in other countries. The more you know about the health, environmental and user risks of the product you are about to purchase, the better you can protect the health and stability of both you and your family. If you do not practice responsible shopping, you can end up putting yourself and your family into some sticky situations.

One example of the consequences of not practicing responsible shopping is during the purchase of a children’s car seat in Canada. Perhaps you’ve seen an ad online for a really good deal on a car seat that is coming from the United States and you happen to live in Canada. Car seats for children are regulated by both Health Canada and Transport Canada, and must pass safety requirements specifically for Canada, which are not the same as those in the United States or any other country. Transport Canada on their website indicates the following warning with regards to purchasing car seats outside of Canada:

The use of non-compliant child seats may not only jeopardize children’s safety and pose a serious danger to the public, but it may also result in repercussions such as:

  • Confiscation of the seat at the border or after it has entered Canada;
  • Fines and/or demerit point penalties;
  • Reduced or voided insurance coverage for injury or death; and
  • Possible criminal charges and/or civil litigation

Additionally, if the seat is purchased outside of Canada and a recall notice is issued, the parent or caregiver may not be informed of the recall or have recourse against the manufacturer.

That online purchase of a car seat outside of Canada could open you and your family up to issues that you hadn’t even thought of, in the case of an accident.

Some tips for responsible shopping:

–       Check your individual country’s government websites for recalled products and hazard alerts before you buy.  Most government websites, particularly in Canada and the United States, issue country wide consumer product recalls and/or hazard alerts for unsafe products.   

–       Become familiar with your government’s websites for tips on safe consumer product use, aside from recall notices.

–       Ask.  Talk to or email the company/person you are going to purchase a product from and ask them if the product is in compliance with your country’s rules and regulations. If they are unsure, or they indicate that they do not ship the product to your country, that will give you a good clue there may be some sort of issue.

–       Read the label!  There are different types of labeling required for different consumer products in most countries. If you have made yourself familiar with your Government’s tips for safe consumer product use, then sometimes a label will give you obvious information on whether the product is in compliance with your country’s requirements (e.g. special symbols on some Canadian consumer chemical products).

For further information on tips for safe consumer product use, please consult the following websites:

Government of Canada, Healthy Canadians:

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Toni-Ann McLean

Toni-Ann McLean

Toni-Ann McLean has over 17 years experience with writing MSDSs/SDSs for the protection of workers and emergency personnel, as well as determining labeling requirements for the protection of consumers, and of workers and emergency personnel. She specializes in Canadian WHMIS regulations (WHMIS 1988, WHMIS 2015), US OSHA regulations (29 CFR, Hazcom 2012), US and Canadian consumer regulations (US CPSC FHSA & Canadian CCCR 2001), and European regulations (EU DSD/DPD/CLP, CHIP).She is also knowledgable in US Right to Know legislation, EU REACH and Canadian Health and Safety legislation. Toni-Ann has been an active member of the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC) for over 13 years where she has learned about upcoming changes to Health & Safety regulations, as well as maintained up to date knowledge of a wide variety of world-wide Health & Safety legislation. She was awarded an SCHC certificate for more than 160 hours of professional development training. Toni-Ann additionally is a current SDS Registered Professional (SDSRP), under the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s (AIHA) SDS & Label Authoring Registry Program.