CPSC Delays New Rules

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just issued an announcement that it voted unanimously (2-0) to issue a one-year stay of enforcement for certain new testing and certification requirements.  The stay applies to manufacturers and importers of regulated products, including products intended for children 12 years old and younger.  The requirements are part of the recently enacted Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which added certification and testing requirements for all <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">products subject to CPSC standards or bans and which becomes effective February 10.

The CPSC vote provides limited relief from the testing and certification requirements for new total lead content limits (600 ppm), phthalates limits for certain products (1000 ppm), and mandatory toy standards, among others.  Children product manufacturers and importers of all sizes will not be required to test or certify to these new requirements, but must meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards, and other requirements.

The stay will remain in effect until February 10, 2010, at which time a Commission vote will be taken to terminate the stay.  The delay provides CPSC staff additional time to finalize four proposed rules which could relieve certain materials and products from lead testing and to issue additional guidance on when testing is required and how such testing is to be conducted.

The CPSC explained that the stay does not apply to the following:

  • Four requirements for third-party testing and certification of certain children’s products subject to the:
  • ban on lead in paint and other surface coatings effective for products made after December 21, 2008;
  • standards for full- and non full-size cribs and pacifiers effective for products made after January 20, 2009;
  • ban on small parts effective for products made after February 15, 2009; and
  • Limits on lead content of metal components of children’s jewelry effective for products made after March 23, 2009.
  • Certification requirements applicable to ATVs manufactured after April 13, 2009.
  • Pre-CPSIA testing and certification requirements, including for:  Automatic residential garage door openers, bike helmets, candles with metal core wicks, lawnmowers, lighters, mattresses, and swimming pool slides.
  • Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act pool drain cover requirements.

The stay, said the CPSC, is intended to provide temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers, and toy makers subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA, which will not be mandated to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the Commission. The stay does not exempt businesses—including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses—from ensuring that products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the CPSIA’s lead and phthalates provisions.

The CPSC also advised handmade garment makers to know if the zippers, buttons, and other fasteners used contain lead; handmade toy makers are advised to know if products using plastic or soft, flexible vinyl, contain phthalates.

The stay does not address thrift, second-hand stores, and small retailers since those establishments are not required to test and certify products under the Act; however, inventory effective February 10, 2009, must not contain more than 600 ppm lead in any accessible part.  The Commission explained that it is aware of the difficulties in understanding if a product meets the lead standard without testing and has issued guidance on its Website.

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