CN-298 / Dec 2009
At a public briefing recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) discussed a proposed new "Guidance Document" (please click here) that may lead to significant changes in the agency's testing requirements to federal product safety standards. A vote is not expected on the proposals until December 2. While it is unclear whether the CPSC will permanently adopt these changes as part of a more extensive testing regulation expected to be issued next year, the Guidance Document does signal some important changes to when and how consumer products, including children's products, are to be tested. These changes could bring both potential relief and potential new requirements for U.S. manufacturers and importers.
For Children's Products, the CPSC Guidance Document Proposes:
， Allowance of Component Testing of Children's Products: For the first time, the CPSC is proposing, under certain circumstances, to allow the testing of product components instead of final products. Responding, in part, to a formal petition submitted in July by Intertek (please click here), the agency may allow not only spray sampling, multiple stamping and finished component testing to the lead paint standard, but also the testing of raw materials (like plastics, metals, etc.) in lieu of testing the final product so long as there is no "material change" to the components or materials being tested. Component testing may soon be sufficient to support certification for the final product if the manufacturer/importer can ensure that there is no significant change from the time the component is tested to the time it is incorporated into the final product.
， Allowance of Reliance on Component Supplier Testing: Also new is the CPSC's proposal to allow manufacturers and importers of children's products to certify those products to CPSC standards based on testing provided by component/raw material suppliers - so long as there is no material change in the component or material that was tested and that goes into the final product. The document also makes clear, however, that the U.S. manufacturer or importer remains responsible for making sure that the product is in full compliance.
， New "Continued Compliance" Testing Requirement: Lastly, for children's products, the document would require re-testing periodically and whenever there is a material change in the product's design, manufacturing process or component supplier. While the draft document indicates that definitive rules regarding this will be issued next year, in the interim it "strongly encourages" testing of children's products no less than once per year. However, product runs of fewer than 10,000 units are to be exempted from continued compliance testing.
For Non-children's Products:
New 5-part Test for "Reasonable Testing Program": For products not primarily intended for children under 13 that are also subject to mandatory CPSC standards, the document proposes a new 5-part test to ensure that testing to such standards is "reasonable" as required by law. Most significant of these new requirements would be that the domestic manufacturer or importer maintains both a "production testing plan" and a "remedial action plan." However, no detail has yet been provided as to what such plans must entail.