The Obama Administration has encouraged agencies to use modern media tools to reach out to the public. In response, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched its blog, OnSafety. Using tools such as a blog, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, the agency is working hard to bring important safety messages to the public.
Since OnSafety does not provide for Commissioner or public comments, today I am launching my own blog as a complement to the official CPSC effort. I welcome comments from the public on important safety issues that are being undertaken by the agency. While I cannot promise to respond to each comment, I can and do promise to read and reflect on each. If comments collectively take on an issue or suggest a new approach, from time to time I will raise that in my blog so that we can have a public discussion on those issues.
This is an incredibly busy time for the CPSC. The agency faces ongoing complex and troubling issues as we work to protect consumers and to implement the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. I am very mindful of the overwhelming challenges the new law presents to businesses, especially small businesses, who strive every day to make safe products. The agency is trying, within the parameters of the new law, to ensure safety for American families and to minimize undue regulatory burdens. Some activities driven by the CPSIA are:
• Component Testing – This issue is of immense importance to all businesses, small and large. In the guidance issued last week on what products do not need to be tested and certified as complying with the new lead standards, we acknowledged that component testing will be accepted in lieu of testing the entire product in certain instances. However, the guidance does not answer the critical question of where in the manufacturing stream can acceptable component testing be done. The agency should provide better guidance to manufacturers who need answers NOW in order to make sourcing decisions. Fashioning such a policy is one of the staff’s highest priorities.
• Periodic Testing – On a related issue, the CPSIA requires that we issue a rule setting out further testing requirements within 15 months of enactment (November, 2009). The agency will not meet that deadline in spite of best efforts to do so. This issue is extremely complex and we need additional input from the affected public before we give answers. The staff will hold workshops on December 10th and 11th to seek public participation. A Federal Register notice will be published with details about the workshop and will also provide details for those who wish to submit written comments. In addition, a draft “Guidance Document on Testing and Certification” will be discussed with the Commission at a public meeting on November 9th. See http://www.cpsc.gov for webcast details.
• Lead Exclusions – Next week the Commissioners are scheduled to vote on a petition asking for an exclusion from the lead provisions for brass–in this case, a brass axle collar to keep the wheel on a small toy car. While the staff does not see any real safety issues with the brass in this product, they also do not believe that the law gives the agency the flexibility to grant the petition. Commissioners’ debate on this petition will take place on November 4th. See http://www.cpsc.gov for webcast details.
These are just some of the CPSIA-related activities on our plate, which are in addition to our ongoing important safety issues affecting the public. One of those important issues is finding answers to the drywall problem. The agency has now released preliminary results of our scientific drywall investigations which were started last spring as a result of reports we received about of this problem. Additional scientific work needs to be done before reaching definitive answers to both the cause of the problem and solutions for homeowners.
Finally no parent needs to be reminded that today is Halloween. But every parent does need to remember that every year we see accidents to our little ghosts, pirates and fairy princesses that could be avoided with just a bit of care. Be sure to check out our safety tips for a Happy Halloween!