Table 4

SWOT analyses of a selected source for long-term support to IT information platform on consumer product-related injuries and accidents

Data sourceStrengthsOpportunitiesWeaknessesThreats
IDB-FDS (based on emergency departments data collection)IDB network has a long-lasting expertise on injury data collection and analysis of external causes of injuries. This is an existing network that collects and analyses data on unintentional and intentional injuries from the emergency departments. The IDB methodology has been initially developed for the purpose of consumer product safety. The methodology and coding system for recording objects/substances involved in injury and capturing narrative is in place, well documented and publicly available.The need for data on injuries by many stakeholders and the public. Implementing technical options at an affordable cost for improving the IDB-FDS data capture speed and the information coding (eg, voice recognition, automatic coding of injuries and external causes from narratives). Coordinated efforts with strong governance could bring the quality of data collection of all members of the IDB network on a comparable level. Data capture and upload frequency could be improved in the medium term. Data policy could be revised to allow easier access to microdata and narratives without compromising privacy.Quality of data supplied to the IDB network by different member state (MS) can vary. Number of countries collecting IDB-FDS sometimes changes depending on the available funding in the MS. Highly restrictive policy applied by IDB network for the access to FDS data. Based on IDB report from 2016, 10 MS and Turkey collected FDS data. Frequency of data transfer to the central database (currently hosted by DG SANTE) occurs once a year. Brand and product names are not recorded. Follow-up studies are needed for more detailed information. Product 'involved' in injury does not mean 'unsafe' product. Case by case checks are required for determining the causality of an incident. Weaknesses of the system are also documented in EuroSafe and IDB publications.Absence of a legal mandate that clearly stipulates responsibilities and ensures funding. Absence of a long-term sustainable governance mechanism (legally strong coordination point and management structures). Ending of funding under the BridgeHealth in 2017. Non-homogeneous level of interest by MS to provide further financial support. Increasing data protection concerns. Lack of clarity on how much funding is required to improve IDB to make it optimised and fit for purpose.
Firefighters intervention reporting registersFirefighters and rescue services are in place in all Member States. All have developed reporting systems to their needs for fire prevention, allocation of resources, etc. Some authorities for consumer products safety already consult the firefighters records for identifying high-risk products (eg, FI).Upgrading and standardising of intervention reporting systems could allow for more product-specific data collection. Scandinavian countries could be taken as examples of well-developed networks for sharing information on fire incidents (Nordstat). Have the potential for the retrieval of very specific product details on emerging unsafe products. Technical opportunities for interconnection and data centralisation.In general, retrieving information on the unsafe product from firefighter's records is currently rather low. Registering details on products involved in accidents is often optional. No standardised data collection/reporting by firefighters at EU level. Relatively fragmented data source. No or poor standardisation of the terminology for the description of items or categories of the involved product. Caution in data interpretation: Not always clear relation between defective product and accident caused by negligence.Possible lack of interest by Member States institutions to initiate collaboration on this matter, since consumer product safety is not among the primary objectives of fire intervention reporting. Low political interest/requirement for exchange of information.
Poison centresData collected at poison centres can contain information on high-risk products (mixtures, cleaning agents, etc). High amount of data available.Recognition that harmonised poisoning case reporting is required and might be the logical next step after the introduction of the harmonised product notification template. From May 2017, manufacturers are obliged to report the composition of their liquid mixtures, as part of generation of UFI number.Circumstances leading to the intoxication are typically not recorded (no time for that, treating the patient is priority). The product classification system is not compatible with other international classification systems (eg, ICECI). Accessibility of data is difficult due to confidentiality reasons. Data currently not collected in a harmonised way. Fragmented data source (many MS operate more than one poison centre, they may be organised on a regional level).Low interest/requirement by national authorities to engage in exchange of information. Funding. Accessibility of data difficult due to confidentiality reasons.
Mortality statisticsMortality statistics is one of the most complete, harmonised and already centralised data collection in Europe. Existing legal bases for mortality statistics. Large set of existing mortality data is available at EU level.Death certificates have the option to record the underlying cause of death, such as injury. Electronic death registers could provide more opportunities for consumer product safety purposes in the future, if harmonised methodology for recording external causes of injuries is applied. Incorporation of ICECI system into ICD-11 could allow more comprehensive coding of external causes of injuries, if properly implemented. This data source could be combined with news media searching and death investigations to provide more details on involved products in fatal injuries.Product-related causes of mortality are generally not registered in death certificates. Eurostat’s shortlist of external causes of morbidity and mortality has a limited range of non-disease-related codes (within ICD-9 and ICD-10) for registering causes of mortality, however these are not sufficient for selective product identification. Level of detail on the cause of death recorded in the certificate can vary. Data availability at EU level is not immediate (up to 24 months after the end of the reference year).High data protection concerns. Legal obstacles in MS for carrying out inquiries into death circumstances. Availability of funding for death investigations.
Private economic operators (eg, toy manufacturer)In-house registers of customer complaints contain specific information about safety issues with consumer products.Manufacturers with higher market share could provide more information of interest to consumer safety policy work. Interest of private sector in using the available data on reported injuries caused by unsafe products. Dialogue with private economic operators needs to be initiated if their data sources are deemed of interest.Data inaccessible for external users due to confidentiality principles. Highly fragmented source.Low current interest of private sector to share data (sharing data is connected to vulnerability and potential loss of market). Very fragmented data.
Insurance companiesHold some data on circumstances of serious injuries.Insurance companies with wide coverage could be of interest as a potential data source if agreements are put in place for collaboration on collecting product-related information on accidents/injuries.Insurance claims are generally not collected in a harmonised way neither at national level nor at European level. Purpose of insurance registers is estimating injury premiums prospectively. Product-related causes are generally not intentionally registered. Accessibility to data restricted due to data privacy and confidentiality reasons. Level of detail recorded in the claims is variable.Lack of interest by insurance companies/insurance associations to share data. Insurance companies present very fragmented data source.
Consumer complaintsExisting EU regulation already stipulates the collection of consumer complaints by relevant national authorities. The channel of collecting this information has already been established in majority of MS (by email, phone, fax, allow sending videos).Consumers engagement is encouraged in all EU MS. Technical opportunities allow for quick and easy reporting of injuries or potentially faulty products.Collected information is submitted and collected following different formats across EU. Data analyses does not follow harmonised methodology (eg, product categorisation is different). The number of consumer product-related cases reported by consumers to responsible authorities varies greatly across EU. Reported cases need to be dealt with caution, since there is risk of misinterpretation/misinformation.Low interest by MS in data sharing or harmonisation of data collection and analyses.
Online news search (EMM)Automated system: update rate (24/7-hour service, variable refresh frequency up to 5 min). Can screen multiple languages. Allows for visual geographical data representation. Trend analyses. Can capture information on emerging risks or near misses from new products.Already existing applications for online news retrieval (EMM exists from 2002). Systems for online news screening could be set up in relatively short term for monitoring the occurrence of fatal accidents or serious injuries related to consumer products. Relatively low-cost investment. Extending the monitoring from online media to social media might capture additional signals or trends (although content will need extensive verification).Only the most sensationalised news, or most serious incidents make their way to the news. Having good online source coverage, such as regional and local news outlets is essential. What appears outside of the monitored scope will not be identified. Case by case manual check is required (to avoid risk of misinterpretation/misinformation). Additional investigations are required since product brand or circumstances may not always be available.Disinformation campaigns (especially on social media). Lack of funding.
  • EMM, Europe Media Monitor ; FDS, full data set; IDB, injury data base; SWOT, Strengths, Opportunities,Weaknesses and Threats; UFI, Unique Formula Identifier.