New Consumer Products Safety Legislation in the U.S. (Product Standards and Certification)

WASHINGTON D.C. – 15 Feb 2008. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), Senate Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), and Senate Commerce Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) today announced a Bipartisan agreement to protect children and consumers from dangerous toys and products. Pryor and Stevens reached an agreement they believe will lead to swift, bipartisan passage of the bill within the next few weeks.

“This legislation allows the CPSC to fight back against the tide of dangerous toys and products flooding our markets today,” Pryor said. “It infuses the agency with new resources, imposes testing requirements on children’s products, and arms the public with faster information when a potential problem emerges. Most of all, the safeguards in this bill should give parents piece of mind that they aren’t buying the next deathtrap disguised as a toy.”

Pryor and Stevens said the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act will rebuild and reinvigorate the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC is the federal agency charged with overseeing the safety of approximately 15,000 consumer products, including toys. The legislation will empower the agency to better protect consumers and their families from unsafe products and meet the challenges of today’s economy. Key elements of the legislation emphasize resources, product testing, disclosure and accountability.

Highlights of the legislation would:

Funding: Authorize funding levels for 7 years starting at $88.5 million in 2009 and increasing at a rate of 10 percent per year through 2015. For 2009 and 2010, an additional $40 million would be authorized to upgrade CPSC’s laboratories and $1 million would be authorized to research the safety of nanotechnology in products;

Civil Fines: Increase the civil fine penalty cap up to $20 million from the current level of $1.8 million;

Criminal Penalties: Increase criminal penalties to 5 years in jail for those who knowingly and willingly violate product safety laws;

Testing: Require third party safety certification of children’s products. Upon CPSC approval, proprietary labs will be allowed to test products if they would provide equal or greater consumer protection than the manufacturer’s use of a third party lab. Makes mandatory current toy safety standards promulgated by ASTM International, an independent standard-setting organization, and requires that toys be certified to the standards;

Labeling: Require manufacturers to label children’s products with tracking information useful to consumers and retailers in identifying recalled products;

Lead: Ban lead in all children’s products;

Quorum: Allow a 2-member quorum to conduct official business for 9 months. The CPSC currently is without a quorum and cannot conduct business that requires Commission action such as a mandatory recall. Restores the Commission to five members instead of three members to prevent future absences of quorum;

Attorneys General: Allow state Attorneys General to obtain injunctive relief on behalf of its residents to enforce product safety laws;

Whistleblower Protections: Provide whistleblower protections for employees of manufacturers, retailers, importers, and government employees to shed light on any problems along the supply chain;

Recalled Products: Make it unlawful for retailers to sell a recalled product;

Rulemaking Process: Streamline the product safety rulemaking process to be more timely by eliminating a mandatory “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” step; and

Public Disclosure: Establish a database to include any reports of injuries, illness, death or risk related to consumer products submitted by consumers, local, State or national government agencies, child care providers, physicians, hospitals, coroners, first responders, and the media. Allows the CPSC to expedite the disclosure of industry provided information in the interest of public health and safety.

Source: www.pryor.senate.gov

Click on this link to learn more about the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $800 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.