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Product Safety Alert: Conferees Continue Work On CPSC Reform Legislation

Date: Jul 01, 2008

House and Senate conferees working on Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reform legislation announced agreement last week on 21 provisions. However, differences remain on some major issues, including the scope of preemption, Attorney General enforcement powers, details of lead reductions, parameters of a public database on incidents and injuries, whistleblower protections, and inclusion of other chemicals and products. Federal regulation of product safety standards currently is broadly preemptive. However, Attorneys General and consumer groups advocate giving states authority to set testing and certification standards as well as and warning requirements for lead and other chemicals.

House and Senate conference committee members have agreed on dramatically increased civil penalties. Maximum penalties per violation will be $100,000, with a cap of $15 million. Among the other 21 provisions on which there is agreement are provisions governing:

  • Expedited rulemakings,
  • Prohibition on stockpiling,
  • Enhanced recall authority,
  • Corrective action plans,
  • Requirements for recall notices,
  • Inspection of proprietary labs, and
  • Identification of manufacturers.

Of interest to makers and sellers of children's products, conferees also agreed on provisions governing:

  • Tracking labels for children's products,
  • Durable nursery products, and
  • Catalog and Internet advertising warnings.

Staff discussions are expected to continue over the recess, and conferees will meet the week of July 7. In the meantime, state action continues with new laws governing lead and chemicals in children's products coming either in place or coming into force. A law in Maryland, for example, establishing a 600 ppm limit on lead in products for children 6 and under takes effect July 1, 2008. Other states have adopted varying limits on lead in children's products, using different age cut-offs and timeframes. These actions illustrate the importance of Congress establishing that federal standards are national in scope.