Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse

The comment period for our regulation defining what is a children’s product has just now closed and the staff, over the next few months, will be analyzing the comments and preparing a final rule for the Commissioners’ consideration.  This definition is needed to determine when third party testing is required.  Nevertheless, tomorrow the Commissioners will be discussing the need for third party testing requirements to show compliance with the carpet and rug flammability rules.  The question before us is, does the CPSIA require that so-called “youth” carpets be third party tested to this reg even though:  (1) there seems to be wide spread compliance through a well-established and long-standing testing and guarantee program, (2) there is no hazard presented that is unique to children, and (3) there are real questions as to what is a “youth” carpet anyway, given that the flammability characteristics of a carpet do not change whether Sponge Bob or a stripe is woven into it.

This issue presents, in real terms, the conundrum presented both by this law and the CPSC’s implementation efforts, that is, viewing testing as an end in itself rather than a means to help achieve safety.  If a proposed requirement does not advance safety, I submit that we have an obligation to look for ways to forego regulating.  I believe this because implementation is not an academic exercise—real jobs are being lost unnecessarily because of our actions.   

This point was brought home with the following email that I received which reads in part:
“My [profit] is down 11.8% . . . on sales that are only down 5.9% from 2007 – a damned miracle in my mind.  After three solid months of hard work, we gave our owners $11,100 in pre-tax income or 1/2 OF 1 PERCENT of sales for the first quarter of this year.  That makes us a non-profit pretty much de facto. Four years ago we turned in $280,000 in pre-tax income or 11.2% of sales.  While I can ‘blame’ the economy for a lot of this, in reality the time, energy and resources that are being misdirected toward (CPSIA) compliance – NOT SAFETY, COMPLIANCE. . Out here in the ‘real world’, resources are limited, we cannot print money (run in the red) and people do lose jobs.  There is a serious disconnect here between safety and actual risk . . . Thousands of jobs depend on you fishing or cutting bait on this issue. . . “

I will continue to advocate for common sense application of the law, I hope my colleagues will do the same.

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4 Responses to “Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse”


  1. 1 PAT August 12, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Dear Commissioner,
    Thank you for your common sense on an government policy run amok. As a rug manufacturer, I can attest that the ambiguity in the CPSIA has created a nightmare for both manufacturers and retailers. The lack of staff at CPSC has resulted in an inability to explain the requirements to the satisfaction of the retailer, resulting in certain retailers requiring a GCC and a flammability test on each and every size and color of a particular rug, performed by their approved laboratories. Ther is no amount of CPSC rules citing that can assuage them.
    Furthermore, each retailer is requiring a different format for the GCC, which eliminates any opportunity to computerize and standardize GCC creation.
    We recently decided to decline a major retailers business due to the onerous and propsterous interpretation of the law. It would have required we submit 30 flammability tests for a single style of accent rug. (5 sizes, 6 colors, all cut from the same production roll). We estimate that testing every sku in our expansive rug line would cost in excess of $40,000 a year.
    Unfortunately Congress has taken a great concept, (protecting children from dangerous products), and naively crafted a costly, and unruly nightmare.
    Regards

  2. 2 Sarah Natividad July 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Ms. Nord, while I appreciate your valiant efforts to fight for common sense on the CPSC, I think it’s a lost fight. I heard that podcast with you and Commissioner Adler. You can’t convince somebody whose head is that far up in his nether regions by talking to him. It would seriously take having his ideology crash into reality he personally experiences, for about a year, for him to start to realize how wrong he is. I presume that’s not something you can arrange.

  3. 3 Tim Saylor June 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Commissioner Nord, it is unbelievable to me that the commission in the past year has been divided by political party. I didn’t think it was possible nor did I believe that commissioners appointed to this position would allow their political party to cloud their judgement. But the Democratic commissioners have shown that true “safety” is not thier priority. We appreciate that there at least two commissioners who are still using common sense and considering the consequences of the CPSIA and it’s aftershocks.


  1. 1 Better Late Than Never or Better Never Than Late? « Conversations with Consumers Trackback on September 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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