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New Product Safety Rules To Take Effect In Canada
Vol. 825 
June 16, 2011

The Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) will take effect Monday, June 20, meaning manufacturers, sellers and distributors of consumer products who do business in Canada will have to comply with a set of new rules.

The CCPSA mirrors the goals and provisions of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), but is different in a few key ways. For example, the Canadian definition of a consumer product is broader, saying an item is such a product if consumers are likely to obtain it. The U.S. definition states a good is a consumer product based on whether the manufacturer or seller intended or caused to make the product available for use by consumers. The implication? In Canada, a product not intended for consumers that nonetheless find its ways into their hands could be subject to CCPSA guidelines.

The Canadian act specifically includes a number of regulations pertaining to toys and children’s jewelry, sleepwear and restraint and booster seats. For example, children’s jewelry is prohibited from containing more than 600 mg/kg of lead, not more than 90 mg/kg of which may be migratable lead. Additionally, tight-fitting sleepwear must be treated with a flame retardent that results in flame spread of greater than seven seconds. The list of regulations on toys is very detailed, touching on everything from dolls, steam engines, plant seeds, rattles, elastics, batteries, fingerpaints and more.

The requirements for reporting a potential safety issue are different in Canada, as well. Unlike in the U.S. CPSIA, the Canadian act views a product recall by another country as a trigger for reporting in Canada, despite possible differences in the nations' regulations. In the U.S., products that pose unreasonable risk of serious injury or death must be reported, while in Canada that directive is expanded to include products that could cause serious adverse health effects beyond immediate injury – say, chemical exposure that could lead to cancer.

Additionally, the timelines for reporting and the required content of reports differ in the U.S. and Canada. Depending, manufacturers and sellers essentially have five to 10 days to report an issue in the U.S. In Canada, they must report a problem within two days of learning of it. While the American rules require companies to "inform" authorities of a product hazard or defect, the Canadian act requires that all information the company has on product-related problems must be turned over, raising potential discovery and privilege concerns.

Given the complications, manufacturers, sellers and distributors of consumer products should ramp up efforts to construct a coordinated approach to complying with regulations in the U.S. and Canada. For more information on the Canadian product safety law taking effect next week, click here.

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