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Proposal Introduced To Amend Product Safety Law
Volume 599
April 9, 2009


Two lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at easing the mandates of the recently enacted Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The new bill, named the Consumer Product Safety Solutions Act of 2009, would allow manufacturers and regulators greater leeway in implementing testing, granting exemptions and creating labeling standards on children's products. "The original bill is devastating small businesses," says Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who helped author the new act. 
The proposed legislation suggests several amendments to the current law. First, the bill would permit manufacturers to "sell-through" inventory for one year after the lead limits go into effect. Children's products made after February 10, 2009 would have to meet a 600 parts per million (ppm) standard, while those made after August 15, 2010 would have to meet a 300 ppm standard. "This is absolutely critical," says Brandon Mackay, president of SnugZ/USA (asi/88060). "If they're not allowed to have the ability to sell through their current goods, this could drive many industry suppliers to the brink of disaster." Bonni Shevin-Sandy, president of Dard Design (asi/48500), agrees. "As long as the old inventory is not more than 600 ppm, then that would be fine from a product safety aspect," she says. "It would still allow suppliers time to sell the older inventory so that it is less of a loss."

In addition, the bill would allow for component part testing, eliminating the need for third party testing if components are previously certified to meet permissible lead and phthalate levels. Also, the bill creates broader exemption authority for labeling, a significant issue for industry companies. "This is a difficult question for the promotional products industry," says Jeff Lederer, vice president of Prime Line (asi/79530), who recently met with government regulators. "In our presentation, we emphasized that the industry strongly supports the objective of tracking labels. That said, many of our products are too small to label under the current requirements of CPSIA and the tracking label has the potential of de-emphasizing our customer's logo and message. So, we strongly support any revision to CPSIA that will give CPSC the latitude to make labeling rules."

Designed to improve the safety of children's products, the CPSIA has drawn sharp criticism for its tight regulations and potential impracticalities. In granting a limited one-year legislative stay in February, regulators said the law was creating "chaos" for small businesses, prompting attempts to change the CPSIA. "Any law that provides an additional level of flexibility is going to be helpful," says Jonathan Isaacson, president of Gemline (asi/56070). "The original law was poorly conceived with unintended consequences."

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