Today the Commission is putting out for comment two proposed rules for doing the testing required by the CPSIA. It is important that the basic rule be in place before the testing and certification stay of enforcement is lifted in February 2011. Given the importance of this rule, we need to hear from the public about whether this proposal gets close to being right.
This proposed rule, in an unprecedented way, puts federal regulators onto the factory floor. The proposed rule is over 170 pages long and is by its nature very complex. I am not confident we have written a rule that works for all the products under our jurisdiction.
One important aspect of the proposal deals with component testing and certification. If suppliers of the paint or the resin or the buttons and zippers that go into a product are willing to test and certify for compliance, it is wasteful to also require the manufacturer who is using those components to repeat the testing. This only makes sense. However, if the components are going into children’s products, they need to be tested by a third party laboratory approved by the CPSC. Further, the component maker is also responsible for doing periodic testing and for testing when a material change takes place, as is also required by the statute.
We are hoping the component testing rule will result in the development of a market for third party tested components to especially help small businesses. During my recent trip to China, I specifically asked various manufacturers whether component testing would address the concerns I was hearing about the immense costs of testing. Several manufacturers told me they were already seeing tested components being advertised. Others told me that for commodity type products, such as wire, it is unlikely such a market will develop. I would be interested in your thoughts on how component testing will help you and what more we can do to develop this process.
In a statement I filed today, I lay out some of the serious concerns I have with the proposed rule. This proposal will be open for comment for 75 days. The text of the rule tells you the process for submitting comments. I urge you to weigh in. We need to hear from you before you’re told what testing you’ll have to do year after year, product after product.