At a hearing yesterday before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, CPSC Chairman Tenenbaum provided an excellent overview of the actions the Commission is taking to ensure the safety of cribs. Crib safety has always been a critical priority at the Commission. From the beginning of the agency, CPSC has done important work to drive down the number of tragic deaths and injuries of infants associated with defective and unsafe cribs.
In 2007, when I was acting chairman, we recognized that we needed a system to more quickly identify emerging nursery product hazards. To do this, we established a special initiative, called the Early Warning System (EWS), which is a multidisciplinary team of technical, legal and investigative staff who meet weekly to review all incident reports involving cribs, bassinets and play yards. It is their ongoing work that has generated recalls involving millions of cribs, play yards and bassinets. In 2008, we initiated rulemaking to develop a mandatory safety standard to better address the issues we saw coming out of the work of the EWS team. As a tandem activity, CPSC staff has been working with ASTM to obtain necessary improvements to the consensus crib standard to better address issues such as durability and faulty hardware. Because of the requirements of Section 104 of the CPSIA, which call for making appropriate voluntary consensus standards mandatory under an aggressive timeline, ASTM action was needed before the agency could escalate the timeline and put in place a standard more quickly.
The success of staff’s diligent efforts to obtain necessary improvements to the voluntary crib standard enables the agency to move more quickly toward implementation of a mandatory crib rule as required under Section 104 of CPSIA. I heartily endorse the Chairman’s initiative to move up the timeline and expand the crib safety program.
CPSIA implementation requirements drove us to devote significant resources to such things as writing rules for lead exclusions, working to figure out how not to ban kid’s bikes and books and other resource intensive activities that do not relate to real safety concerns. Recently all five Commissioners requested more flexibility from Congress to deal with lead exclusions. Hopefully, such flexibility would allow us to better allocate resources to priorities such as the serious safety concerns surrounding the sleep environment for our littlest consumers.