It’s He-ere . . .

Today, the CPSC’s children’s product periodic testing and certification rule goes into effect. Perhaps the most sweeping rule in the agency’s history, it was spurred by 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Even before becoming effective, it has substantially affected the agency, the regulated community, and consumers. Starting today, those effects will grow.

After much debate about its details (more on that shortly), the rule is now the law. It sets massive new requirements for the CPSC’s regulated community. To comply with it, companies and labs should have developed systems and procedures to comply with the new requirements and these should all now largely be in place.

Even so, tweaks to those systems will, of course, be necessary. Some of those changes are things that manufacturers and labs can take care of on their own. Others, however, will probably require attention from agency staff and from the Commission. As you encounter problems with this rule, make sure that the agency and I hear about them. Your voice can make a difference. Already, based on pre-implementation concerns, both Congress and the CPSC have made changes to the rule. And as the rule now goes into effect, we can only expect more concerns to be revealed. When they arise, let us know about them.

Of course, as readers of this blog already know, this rule is not my ideal rule. During the many debates leading up to today, I have already filled enough of this space discussing my disagreements with the Commission’s decisions to belabor them here in any detail. To sum it up, I believe we overstated the necessity for third-party testing, ignored opportunities to make the rule more effective, created “gotcha” traps for companies, and paid lip-service to Congress’s demands that we look to make it less expensive. The result is an unwieldy rule that (because of its name) might make consumers feel safer, but holds only speculative hopes of actually making them safer. All the while, they now have the certainty of fewer choices at higher prices.

Yet, though I remain concerned about the unnecessary damage this rule threatens—and as I continue to work to improve it—make no mistake: It is the law. Companies must heed it even where they disagree with it, and violators should expect a visit from our compliance staff. We have lots of resources for helping businesses understand this rule and how to meet its demands, especially for small businesses. If you have not already figured out your plans for complying with the rule, hurry up and fix that. We surely will all learn a lot along the way, but there is no more time for waiting.

2 Responses to “It’s He-ere . . .”

  1. 1 Shayla Sharp July 15, 2013 at 1:56 am

    I have a suggestion about the CPSIA and small handcrafters. Most handcrafted toys/dolls come from businesses that involve one person, sometimes a few more, making less than 20 of any particular product (usually only one or two) and their revenue comes about as close to $1 million as Oregon is to DC. Perhaps, in a way to accommodate both the financial needs of these businesses and those that manufacture the supplies they use, and the safety concerns addressed within the CPSIA, we could have a new designation created—the micro business. The micro business could be defined as those “small” businesses that have a gross revenue <$300,000 and product creation less than 50 per item. These businesses would not only have the exempted list of items (fabrics, natural products, etc.) and the current component testing and 3rd party testing exemptions with certificates, but could also additionally use MSDS sheets and company test results that were not necessarily CPSIA certificates in place of the GCCs. I suggest this because many companies that sell products such as buttons or sew-on snaps refuse to put out the additional funds for additional tests to be CPSIA compliant and instead simply say their products weren't intended for those 12 and under. While I completely understand their desire to not waste funds on unnecessary tests, this seems to be a technical loophole on their part and for those of us who make things like doll clothes, stuffed animals and dolls, and children's clothing, it leaves us still stuck facing the need for expensive testing for simple supplies that we would like to use. By allowing the use of the company's product MSDS sheets and the test results from their already-required safety testing, we could prove that the item still meets appropriate lead and phthalate levels without additional costs to anyone. Most handcrafters want their items to be safely enjoyed, and we generally have no problems with the safety standards—but, we'd also like to able to continue making them with the same artistic levels. Something as simple as a poly-resin shirt button might be perfectly safe to use, but with companies unwilling to issue GCCs and micro businesses unable to afford testing, we're still going nowhere. Thank you.

  1. 1 March 7 roundup - Overlawyered Trackback on March 7, 2013 at 9:44 am

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