CPSIA Update: Clarity Still Lacking in Testing Requirements

By January 11, 2011Regulations

The National Association of Manufacturers and numerous other business associations have sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission requesting a further extension of the stay delaying enforcement of the testing and certification requirements under Section 102(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) with regards to the lead substrate standard.

From the letter:

Consumer product safety is of the utmost importance to U.S. manufacturers and the retail community. Our organizations are deeply committed to ensuring a well-functioning and credible product safety regime – one that gives all stakeholders the confidence they need that children’s products are safe and appropriate to use. This means having definitive, clear and comprehensive rules that all companies can realistically be expected to comply with, combined with a predictable and transparent enforcement regime. Our businesses must be able to make decisions with a reasonable understanding of how to comply with federal safety rules.

The presumed expiration of the current stay is February 10, 2011 – less than 60 days from now – and the agency has yet to finalize the so-called “15 month rule” defining the relevant testing requirements. The current draft rules have garnered considerable controversy, leaving companies unsure what procedures to implement in advance of the lifting of the stay. With literally days to go before the potential lifting of the stay, this has become yet another CPSIA crisis. As many comments on the draft rules have indicated, there remain a significant number of unanswered questions and concerns with the testing and certification requirements. Unfortunately, there is insufficient time now for the agency to issue the final rule, clarify industry’s compliance questions and for our members’ supply chains to absorb and incorporate those new rules before the expiration of the current stay of enforcement.

Without clarity, companies have been left navigating diverse, and sometimes contradictory, interpretations on how the testing requirements apply to their products. Despite this market chaos, the delay in implementing the testing and certification requirements has not apparently adversely affected children’s product safety as recalls fell to historically low levels since passage of the CPSIA. The impact on market participants has been more serious, however. Small businesses remain at a real disadvantage, being unable to harness scale to reduce their costs and lacking the resources to fully absorb and implement all the complex new rules and regulations. The market has not responded to help the small business community, either.

Importantly, the hoped-for market for “CPSIA tested and certified” components has not yet developed.

The NAM leads the NAM CPSC Coalition.

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