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President Signs Product Safety Law Widening Regulatory Discretion

Posted On: 8/23/2011

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Obama signs product safety bill, product safety, vending, bulk vending, vending machine, bulk vending machine, bulk vending products, vending product safety, H.R. 2715, CPSIA bill, product safety law, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Inez Tenenbaum, Henry Waxman

WASHINGTON -- President Obama has signed a bill, HR 2715, which is designed to provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission with greater authority and discretion in enforcing consumer product safety laws. It was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on Aug. 1, and is now law.

Among provisions in the new law is a section authorizing the CPSC to grant exemptions to stringent tracking label requirements in cases where such labeling is not "practicable." Bulk products already had been granted this exemption by a CPSC ruling, and the inclusion of this specific language in the new law makes that decision binding. | SEE STORY

The new law states that "The Commission may, by regulation, exclude a specific product or class of products from the requirements ... if the Commission determines that it is not practicable for such product or class of products to bear the marks required... The Commission may establish alternative requirements for any product or class of products excluded..."

The new provisions also increase the flexibility given CPSC in writing rules related to lead levels in items unlikely to be ingested by a child. These include parts found on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, bicycles and used children's products. There also are "carve-out" exclusions for items made by small-batch manufacturers and products sold in thrift stores.

There is no change to the CPSIA's lead limit of 100 parts per million for bulk toys, which went into effect Aug. 14. However, there is a provision in the bill that requires the CPSC to seek public comment on opportunities to reduce the cost of complying with the act's third-party testing requirements within 60 days after the date of the bill's enactment.

This provision directs the CPSC to consider a number of factors set forth for comment, and allows it to act within one year after the date of enactment to propose new or revised third-party testing requirements. The provision allows manufacturers adversely impacted by the third-party testing requirement to propose modifying that testing regime with CPSC's concurrence.

"I think we have struck the right balance," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). "We fix valid problems and keep in place valuable health and safety protections for children. That has been my primary goal throughout this process."

The new law also seeks to improve the efficiency of CPSC's safety database, launched in March as required by the CPSIA. The recent revision allows for modifications in the way the agency handles reports, specifically by allowing the CPSC to delay publication of potentially inaccurate data pending receipt of additional information that it may request. That information might include model, serial number and a photograph of the product, supplied by a complainant.

"When I first took over the reins of CPSC in July 2009, I said that I would be a firm but fair regulator," said chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum. "In keeping with this approach, I called for greater flexibility in implementing the CPSIA.

"My guiding principle has been that any changes to the law not slow down or reverse the progress we have made to protect the health and safety of children," Tenenbaum continued. "H.R. 2715 confirms that vision. By a 421-2 vote in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate, Congress provided additional flexibility in the areas the Commission requested, while reaffirming the key landmark provisions of the CPSIA."

For a full version of the new law and background go to: