Last August, Congress passed H.R. 2715, a reform that required us to seek public comment and to devise concrete steps towards reducing the costs of third-party testing while continuing our safety efforts. I applaud those that took the time and effort to comment; I myself sent a list of recommendations to staff last December.
We have been in the process of reviewing the public comments and we soon expect to get a staff report addressing those comments. There were over 25 commenters from a wide range of industries and organizations and it has been illuminating to see the different issues experienced by both small and large businesses, domestically and internationally. Among several common themes was the overarching message that the costs of third party testing were severely impacting the global supply chain without a commensurate advancement in safety.
Here is a sample of common themes received.
- Harmonization: One of the largest complaints from the public is the lack of alignment of international, federal, and state standards. That lack of alignment results in higher costs without additional safety.
- Small Volume Testing: Many companies still endure high testing costs on their small volume productions simply because they fall into the mid-large manufacturer category. The result? Companies cease to produce small runs, innovation is thwarted, and the consumer faces fewer useful products.
- Inter-lab Variability: Commenters from several industries reported inaccuracies among laboratory results, especially with such minute levels as the 100 ppm lead requirement. How is safety advanced when everyone agrees there are continuing discrepancies?
- Reducing Testing Redundancies: Many large retailers require testing to be done by specific third party testing laboratories. So if a manufacturer sells to five different retailers, then the manufacturer may be required to perform the same exact test on the same exact product five times.
- Over-defining Standards: Unnecessary testing has been required due to overreaching, expansive statutory interpretations, including the over-broad identification of children’s product safety rules.
I look forward to the staff recommendations that should address these issues and others raised by the public. It is vital that we examine our regulations to reduce the costs of third party testing in such a way that safety is not compromised.