Anne Marie Buerkle, chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, gave PPAI and industry members a “gold star” for their work spearheading product safety issues on Monday when she spoke via video conference to attendees at the PPAI Product Responsibility Summit.

Buerkle opened  by telling attendees, “It’s the entrepreneurial spirit of organizations like PPAI that make this country great, and it is the hard work and sacrifice of people like yourselves that keep the American dream alive and well.

“Participating in a seminar such as this demonstrates your commitment to and understanding of the importance of product safety. This is an organization that gets the gold star for product safety education and awareness,” she said.

Buerkle joined the conference from her office in Washington, D.C., to discuss the purpose and role of the commission in ensuring consumer products adhere to safety regulations. “We are an independent regulatory agency, and though the leadership of the commission is fluid, the mission of the CPSC remains the same,” she said.

Buerkle has been a member of the commission since 2013 and assumed the chair role in July. Prior to her CSPC work, she served constituents in upstate New York as a congresswoman, attended law school and built a career as a nurse.

Buerkle told the audience that she is an advocate of collaboration with all stakeholders, and she is a proponent of a balanced and reasonable approach to regulation and utilization of education and awareness among stakeholders.

Buerkle emphasized the importance of voluntary standards, which are a way for collaborative parties to gain consensus. She encouraged attendees to participate in the voluntary standards process so that their voices and expertise are heard.

“Collaboration is important because our jurisdiction is so broad,” she said. “We operate with fewer than 600 staff and a budget of $126 million, which by government standards is extremely small. We can’t possibly be experts in all that we do. I encourage the staff to collaborate with those who are experts.”