CPSIA Update: Track This If You Can

By May 14, 2009General

The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 1-1 Wednesday to deny a petition from the National Association of Manufacturers and the CPSC Coalition for an emergency one-year stay in enforcement from the new tracking label mandate included in the immoderate Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The labeling requirements are set to quick in August 14, and they will be a nightmare to implement. Or an impossibility. Or an impossible nightmare.

From the petition:

Even if the Commission were to publish guidance on this new provision today, there would still be insufficient time for companies to implement this provision properly. Changes in product processes, including changes in labeling requirements for packaging and products, usually take at least a year in many sectors in order to ensure smooth execution. This process must begin at the design phase of the product, well before production takes place. Implementation of the new tracking label provision will necessitate legal reviews, compliance clearance, and training of supply chain partners. Moreover, many companies are already now ordering, planning, and costing production of goods that will be made in fall 2009 or later, meaning they are already making guesses about how the new labeling provision will be implemented. Should those guesses prove to be wrong when the Commission publishes guidance shortly before the August 14, 2009 implementation date, companies will have to scramble to rework labeling and packaging at significant cost. Electronic databases may need to be developed and tested to facilitate effective tracking, another aspect that will require significant time and resources in many industries.

And in yet another example of the CPSIA being disconnected from reality, the labeling requirements could apply to things like small toys, art materials or children’s jewelry.

This is actually a case where a stay of enforcement (see below) makes sense, because there’s not going to be a lot of legal liability or potential alternate enforcement if the CPSC allows a delay. Acting Chairman Nancy Nord voted yes, but Commissioner Thomas Moore voted no — apparently thinking that guidance could be written by August 14.

This is the first time the commissioners have split on votes about enforcement of the CPSIA. To which we say, FIX THE LAW.

For more on problems posed by the tracking label requirements, see the presentations from the CPSC sponsored forum held Tuesday in Washington.

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