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Consumer Product Safety Commission Seeks Industry Guidance on CPSIA Requirements During December 10-11 Workshop

In a Federal Register notice to be published tomorrow, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is asking for a broad range of industry guidance on how importers and manufacturers should comply with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). The notice formally announced a December 10-11 "workshop" in Bethesda, Maryland, which will be used to gather information, as well as a written comment period.

 This may be an important opportunity for the trade to help the CPSC shape its implementation of the law. Registration information for attending, and a link for viewing the workshop via webcast, can be found at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/cpsiatesting.aspx.  Written industry comments will also be accepted until January 11, 2010).

 The agenda for the workshop is extensive. For example, the CPSC is seeking input on the critical question of component testing. The CPSC has indicated it might allow manufacturers to rely on safety certificates from upstream component makers, which means components would not have to be re-tested by downstream users. This option would be desirable for apparel importers who need to ensure components like zippers and snaps comply with the law. On this issue, the CPSC is asking for input on how to determine that manufacturers are exercising "due care" to ensure the components are safe, and what reasonable steps they might take to determine if a certificate is false.

In addition, the Commission puts forward the idea that a manufacturer’s "reasonable testing program" to ensure products meet CPSC guidelines should include a product description, testing, the development of a full testing plan, plans for dealing with failed test results, and documentation of the testing program. But the CPSC is asking industry whether these elements are sufficient, or whether additional requirements should be added. CPSC also has several questions about how often manufacturers should test their products, and what sample sizes should be used.

CPSC also says it is considering requiring manufacturers of children’s products to come up with their own reasonable testing programs, even though they are already required to have products tested by a third party to ensure they meet strict new lead content guidelines. In the area of testing for children’s products, CPSC is asking how often tests should be performed, what product change might require new tests, and how verification and labeling should work to ensure compliance.

 Among other things, the CPSC is also asking a range of questions about how compliance procedures might work for smaller companies, what the costs of compliance might be for those companies, and whether there are ways to minimize these costs.

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