Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act Archives - Page 2 of 22 - Shopfloor

CPSC Begins ‘Soft Launch’ of Product Safety Complaint Erratabase

By | Regulations | One Comment

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a nice Monday morning surprise, a “soft launch” of the new consumer product safety complaint database, SaferProducts.gov, which the National Association of Manufacturers believes is ripe for abuse.

Alston and Bird reported the news in a client advisory last Thursday, “Consumer Product Safety Commission Database to Become Operational on January 24, 2011, Weeks Earlier than Expected“:

This early “soft launch” was announced during a CPSC presentation on January 20, 2011. Manufacturers and others affected by the database now effectively have one full business day to prepare for the database’s launch….

Although the CPSC indicated that consumer reports of harm submitted during the soft launch would not be publicly viewable during the launch period, clients should still be prepared to respond promptly to reports of harm. Today’s unexpected announcement also suggests that clients should be prepared for other unexpected actions by the CPSC with regard to the database.

UPDATE (10:25 a.m.): To be fair, we should repeat the CPSC’s important note about the “soft launch”: “Reports and manufacturer comments collected during Soft Launch will not be published and searchable in the Database, even after the official launch in March 2011.” Rest of the post continues below …

The NAM detailed manufacturers’ objections in a Jan. 13 Capital Briefing, “CPSC to Roll out Product Safety Database“:

This database has alarmed manufacturers, who fear that it will become a poorly monitored site that encourages reputation-harming complaints. Unfortunately, the new rule invites the gaming of the database to the detriment of manufacturers of safe products, even to the point of expanding the definition of “consumer” and “public safety entities” those who can register an online complaint to include trial lawyers and activist groups.

Advertising Age’ latest report also spots the problems. From “Marketers, Meet the Feds’ Very Own Yelp“: Read More

CPSIA Update: Clarity Still Lacking in Testing Requirements

By | Regulations | One Comment

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. Read More

CPSIA Update: CPSC Erratabase to be Rolled Out

By | Regulations | One Comment

The Washington Post today previews the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s new product safety database in a page one story, “U.S. opening product safety records to public.”

[Major] manufacturing and industry groups have raised concerns about the public database, saying it may be filled with fictitious slams against their brands. Competitors or others with political motives could post inaccurate claims, business leaders say, and the agency will not be able to investigate most of the complaints.

Arguing that this could present a new burden in an already difficult economic environment, they are working behind the scenes to delay or revamp the project.

“We’re not opposed to a database,” said Rosario Palmieri, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers. “We’re opposed to a database that’s full of inaccurate information.”

It’s a page one story. If only the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which created the database, had received such a thorough journalistic examination when Congress was considering it. The NAM certainly made its objections known.

The CPSC’s web conference on the database begins at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Details.

Soon-to-be Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) on Obama Administration’s Regulatory Excess

By | Energy, Global Warming, Regulations | One Comment

In an interview last week on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, detailed the committee’s plans for action and oversight in the first few months of the 112th Congress. The Environmental Protection Agency’s aggressive agenda of regulatory excess will be a major area of attention. As Upton said, “From the start, we’ve said we’re not going to let this administration regulate what they’re unable to legislate.”

From the transcript, Chairman-elect Upton:

Lisa Jackson, the administrator of EPA, I think she might have testified one time before our committee the last two years. And we made the point of making sure that we don’t know whether we’re going to have to report to the IRS that she’s going to get free parking as a benefit up here on Capitol Hill, but she’s going to be up here a lot more. She’s going to need to defend what EPA is trying to do.

And I will say this. You know, since I talked to you last, EPA had threatened to do these boiler regulations. You know, this is involving, really, most businesses across the country. And we sent some pretty tough letters over the last four, six weeks. And they backed off on them. So that was a good sign.

And as we look at all these regulations that EPA has got their hands in, we’re going to be looking at all of them. And you might remember that as a matter of the Pledge, something that Kevin McCarthy did really good work on, and most Republicans, including myself, embraced this last fall, one of the planks in that was that we want to examine all of the regulations that impose costs that exceed, I want to say, it was $200 million dollars on businesses across the country.

So we’re going to take that up as an issue, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve assigned Cliff Stearns to be the chairman of the very important subcommittee on oversight and investigations. And I would imagine that they’re going to, and I saw Cliff yesterday, he’s already got about his next three months of hearings, maybe as many as two a week, and beginning to plan out, and EPA’s going to be a part of that. And John Shimkus, too.

Throughout the wide-ranging interview, Upton is politically punctilious about the central role the Energy and Commerce subcommittees and their chairmen will play. He includes the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act as one topic for legislative scrutiny under the newly renamed Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA).

There’s also a brief discussion of John Engler’s move from the National Association of Manufacturers to the Business Roundtable.

Thank you to Hugh Hewitt and his team for producing the transcripts from his show. It’s an extra effort that helps make his show of such valuable for people who follow manufacturing policy.

Sensible Principles, Fixes and Action for CPSC

By | General, Regulations | 2 Comments

Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, is testifying this morning before a Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee hearing, “Oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Product Safety in the Holiday Season.”

Although speaking on behalf of the apparel and footwear industry, Steve’s prepared remarks are right in line with the points the National Association of Manufacturers has raised since the 2008 passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). We’re glad he reminded the committee members of manufacturers’ diligent efforts to ensure the safety of consumer products, and of industry’s support for additional funding and staffing for the CPSC during the congressional debates.

Still, there can be no doubt the legislation does not comport with the real word. In other words, what an expensive, jobs-killing message. From Lamar:

It goes without saying that industry, consumer advocacy groups, bloggers, the media, and various other stakeholders across the spectrum have become more engaged than ever in product safety.

Regrettably, the legislation also mandated a series of controversial changes to the nation’s product safety rules that have created endless confusion, extensive burdens, huge costs, job losses, and irreparable damage to the business community. In many cases, these adverse consequences have come without improvements in product safety or public health. Among other things, the law mandated very strict lead and phthalate content restrictions. It required certifications of compliance for all consumer products for all safety standards, mandating third party testing for those standards involving children’s products (defined as 12 and under). It created a public database of product safety incidents. It authorized enforcement by state attorneys general and created whistleblower provisions. While many of these provisions reflect good intentions, the language of the CPSIA makes many of them difficult, if not impossible, to implement and enforce. Tight deadlines, rigid definitions, retroactively applied standards, requirements that do not reflect risk, and a “one size fits all approach” are all among the many problems that have made CPSIA implementation

His testimony addresses one important issue that would make most people’s eyes glaze over, lead substrate. While “consumer activists” can speak broadly and high-mindedly about risks, threats and safety, manufacturers must tackle practical considerations making consumer products.

Steve closes with eight recommendations on product safety, many of which will require Congressional action in 2011.

  • Ensure that all product safety decisions are based on risk and supported
    by data.
  • Give the CPSC more flexibility to interpret CPSIA
  • Ensure that new regulations do not contradict existing ones.
  • Ensure prospective application of all rules
  • Establish deadlines that permit and encourage compliance.
  • Publicize all pending regulatory developments
  • Avoid “One Size Fits All Approaches”
  • There is more to the CPSC than CPSIA
  • Stephen Lamar’s prepared statement is here, and the hearing is being webcast here.

    CPSIA Update: Hearing Includes Manufacturers’ Representative

    By | Economy, Regulations | 2 Comments

    Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has released the witness list for its hearing Thursday, “Oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission:  Product Safety in the Holiday Season.” It’s a reasonably balanced list, starting with the inclusion of Commissioner Northup, who with Chairman Tenenbaum could provide a good pro-and-con discussion of the just-adopted rules for the (anti-business, anti-consumer) consumer product safety database.

    We’re pleased that Steve Lamar of the American Apparel and Footwear Association will be available to provide the manufacturers’ perspective.

    Witness Panel 1

    * The Honorable Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman
    Consumer Product Safety Commission
    * The Honorable Anne Northup, Commissioner
    Consumer Product Safety Commission

    Witness Panel 2

    * Ms. Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety and Senior Counsel
    Consumer Federation of America
    * Mr. Steve Lamar, Executive Vice President
    American Apparel and Footwear Association
    * Ms. Jill Chuckas, Board of Directors, Handmade Toy Alliance
    Owner, Crafty Baby, LLC
    * Dr. H. Garry Gardner FAAP
    Chair, Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention
    American Academy of Pediatrics Read More

    CPSIA Update: Erratabase

    By | General | No Comments

    We’re still waiting to learn the witnesses for Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee, “Oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission: Product Safety in the Holiday Season.” A hearing limited to witnesses from officialdom would be a disappointment, oversight-lite.

    We hope for probing questions about the CPSC’s approval last week of a fundamentally flawed product safety database. The Washington Times editorialized on the new federal regulation, “CPSC’s database of doom.” The editors write:

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission finalized a new rule Nov. 24 that abandons both consumers and safety. Trial lawyers and unscrupulous business competitors, though, made out like bandits. American manufacturers and tradesmen are the ones left with empty pockets….[snip]

    Trial lawyers pushing class-action suits could gin up hundreds of anonymous complaints, then point the jurors to those complaints at the “official” CPSC website as a way to feign the legitimacy of their theories that a product in question caused vast harm. “The agency does not appear to be concerned about fairness and does not care that unfounded complaints could damage the reputation of a company,” said Mrs. Nord. “The majority approach [on this and related rules] has imposed unnecessary costs on consumers, has limited their choices, has shut down businesses and has forced safe products off the market.”

    Commissioner Nord correctly analyzes the troubling attitude of the majority commissioners, and The Washington Times makes a strong argument: The public is not served by a $29 million anonymous smear sheet.

    Also, thanks, WT, for the mention of the NAM’s work on the issue.

    Oversight Hearing on CPSC: We Await the Questions on the Debased Database

    By | Regulations | One Comment

    A Senate Commerce subcommittee next week will hold a lameduck session hearing to review the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s operations.

    Oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission: Product Safety in the Holiday Season
    Dec 02 2010 10:00 AM
    Russell Senate Office Building – 253
    WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces the following Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee hearing titled Oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission:  Product Safety in the Holiday Season.

    Given the seasonal tie-in announced in the title, we’re not terribly hopeful that there will be probing, aggressive oversight at the hearing. Still, in light of the Commission’s action today in approving the product safety complaint database, we suggest the following question: “Madame Chairman, the legislative history of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was very clear in explaining Congress’ goals with the product safety database, that is, who qualified as ‘reporters’ able to post to the database. Yet the CPSC staff and now the majority of the Commission have dramatically expanded that definition in way that will encourage activists, trial lawyers and others to register complaints against entirely safe products. And your final rules makes it difficult for manufacturers to effectively defend their reputations. It’s data debased, and that doesn’t improve product safety for children. Why did the CPSC ignore the clear legislative intent?”

    CPSIA Update: Public Database Vote Postponed

    By | Briefly Legal, Regulations | 2 Comments

    At the request of Commissioner Anne Northup, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has postponed today’s vote on the final rule establishing the Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database. (CPSC website)

    The 2008 law, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, mandated this new reporting device with the idea that members of the public could gain useful information about products they might be concerned about. Unfortunately, the current proposal invites the gaming of the database to the detriment of manufacturers of safe products, even to the point of expanding the definition of “consumer” — those who can register an online complaint — to include activist groups and trial lawyers. (See our earlier post, “CPSIA Update: Why Would You Let Bad Info into Public Database?”)

    Commissioners Northup and Nancy Nord submitted an alternative, less disruptive proposal, which you can read here. The additional week does allow time for more public comment, which Commissioner Nord is soliciting at Commissioner_Nord@cpsc.gov.

    The Energy and Commerce Committee will have many, many, many assignments it will want to undertake in the 112th Congress. Oversight of the CPSC and the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act should certainly be high on the committee’s list.

    See also Rick Woldenberg’s post at AmendtheCpsia.com.

    CPSIA Update: Why Would You Let Bad Info into Public Database?

    By | Briefly Legal, Regulations | 3 Comments

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission is getting closer to its launch of a product safety public database, a major provision of 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). If the commission adopts its staff-proposed rule on Nov. 17 without any changes, the CPSIA’s already substantial economic harm will spread even further.

    As Congress conceived it, the database is intended to allow the public to weigh in with legitimate complaints about consumer products. Unfortunately, bad information tends to drive out the good, and manufacturers are increasingly concerned that a poorly implemented CPSC product safety database will become a magnet for inaccurate and inflammatory reports about manufacturers and their  products.

    Plaintiffs’ lawyers frequently use sophisticated public relations campaigns to gin up investigations, encourage enforcement actions or otherwise damage the reputations of corporate defendants, hoping to increase the plaintiffs’ leverage in litigation and bully companies into settlements. It’s easy to envision how such a multipronged campaign against a company could involve salting a database with false and alarmist complaints.

    The potential harm from a PR-motivated misuse of the database is why it is so critical that the CPSC commissioners reject several provisions of the staff’s final rule on the database when it votes Wednesday, Nov. 17.

    The staff-recommended rule has absurdly expanded the definition of “consumer” (one of the categories of who can file complaints) to include trial lawyers and advocacy groups.  It also proposes to include information in the database even if a manufacturer has already provided evidence that the claim is inaccurate, so long as the CPSC staff hasn’t had time to review the claim of inaccuracy.

    “We haven’t gotten around to checking it yet,” is no excuse for allowing a false complaint into a database.

    CPSC Commissioners Nancy Nord and Anne Northup have proposed an alternate final rule that makes the necessary changes and follows congressional intent.  We applaud their proposal and encourage other interested parties to reach out to the CPSC and let them know the current draft rule should not go final without incorporating improvements from the Nord and Northup draft.  A copy of their proposal can be viewed here. Please send your feedback to Commissioner_Nord@cpsc.gov