Showing posts with label Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Show all posts

February 11, 2024

CPSC finally is taking real action on electronic certificates of compliance

Published February 5, 2024

Reprinted with permission from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News 

Original article link 

A certificate of compliance requirement was in the original Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed in 2008 and signed by George W. Bush. It has taken 16 years for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to finally implement the full intended scope of electronic certificates of compliance as originally envisioned by Congress in 2008.

There have been multiple “beta” and “pilot” programs with many large institutional participants (especially many large retailers, e.g., Walmart and Target) giving feedback on the process. Only one or two small bike brands gave feedback per the current notice of proposed rulemaking, and it's not even clear they were in the pilot or beta programs.

The biggest issue I see for the bike industry is that the commission is proposing that the new rules take effect within 120 days of the new rules being passed; the passage date is not clear at this point. Given that the bike industry is slow to respond to large changes in the manner of doing business like this and that there has been zero coverage of this issue, I suspect there will be some pushback and scrambling going on especially by smaller brands.

These rules have been in effect for many years, but now that CPSC has teamed up with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on this project, the certificates will need to be filed before importation using the elaborate electronic system called the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The CBP has completed its ACE interface and the Partner Government Agency Message Set, which now enable importers or their brokers to submit electronic import data.

The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR) to amend 16 CFR Part 1110 was first published on Dec. 8. All 65 pages are here, not including the 289-page Ballot package that the CPSC commissioners have to vote on and that contains more details about the Part 1110 rule change. Comments have to be received by Tuesday at 5 p.m. They can be made here.

Only finished products or substances that are subject to a CPSC rule, ban, standard, or regulation, are required to be tested and certified, and only such finished products that are imported into the United States for consumption or warehousing would be required to e-file certificates with CBP.

How the bike industry is affected

This is of course where things start getting murky, especially for the bike industry that has many segments: human-powered bikes, e-bikes, bikes intended for kids under 12, original equipment components, aftermarket components, and replacement components. Many industries don’t have to deal too much with replacement parts, such as the toy industry.

Here is a quote from CPSC’s response to one comment made previously:

Comment 38: Several commenters expressed confusion regarding the difference between certificates for component parts, for finished products, and for replacement parts of consumer products.

Response 38: Proposed § 1110.3(b) defines “component part” as a product or substance that is intended to be used in the manufacture or assembly of a finished product, and is not intended for sale to, or use by, consumers as a finished product. The SNPR defines a “finished product” as a product or substance that is “regulated by the commission that is imported for consumption or warehousing or is distributed in commerce.” The SNPR definition explains that parts of such products or substances, including replacement parts, that are imported for consumption or warehousing, or are distributed in commerce, and that are packaged, sold, or held for sale to, or use by, consumers, are considered finished products.

 Only (1) finished products (2) subject to a CPSC rule must be tested and certified. (I added these numbers for clarification that it’s a two part-test.) Component part certificates are voluntary and are not required to accompany an imported component part, are not required to be furnished to retailers and distributors (as described in proposed § 1110.13(b)), and are not to be e-filed.

Not all replacement parts are finished products that require testing and certification. A replacement part of a consumer product that meets the definition of a finished product may be subject to Part 1110, if the replacement part is subject to a rule. For example, a stem for a bicycle that is sold to consumers as a replacement part requires a certificate, because stems, either as a stand-alone product or as part of a finished bicycle, must be tested for strength in accordance with 16 CFR 1512.18(g). (I tend to disagree with this part as the CPSC historically, even in recalls, has not taken this position that 16 CFR 1512 is a separately sold “component” standard but rather a “complete bike” standard.)

Additionally, parts of toys, such as doll accessories, that are sold to consumers as a separate finished product, must comply with all applicable rules, including for example lead in paint and/or lead content (Editor’s note: if it is a product intended for children under 12). If the same doll accessories were imported for manufacturing purposes and not for consumption or warehousing, (this is a small part of competent imports in the bike business) and were intended to be combined with a doll for sale, then such accessories would not be a finished product required to be certified until they are part of a finished product.

Majority of aftermarket products will need testing

So this means that 80% of the aftermarket products are going to need CPSC testing provided there is some requirement in a CPSC rule that arguably pertains to that bike product or component. If they are not “intended for children under 12” (kids product) that testing can be done in house apparently by the manufacturer or brand (subject to other requirements). If it is a kids product then a CPSC certified lab has to do the testing, which includes chemical testing (that does not meet California Prop 65 requirements, by the way).

E-bikes don’t have their own standard except for 16 CFR 1512, provided they meet the 20 mph requirement in the standard; if they don't, well then there are other issues to deal with. E-bike batteries, of course, don’t yet have a CPSC standard as they are not discussed in 16 CFR 1512, so in theory they escape the rule and these new testing and reporting requirements. How ironic as they are the biggest threat at this time and not really foreseen in 2008.

How this whole process is going to work as far as getting that testing data etc. into the CPB and CPSC computers is what has been the focus of multiple beta filing pilots. The importer of record has the responsibility. Not the foreign manufacturer. It's also not clear how this works with the tariff codes and what the timing is on the uploading of this data before the product hits U.S. shores. Import brokers are obviously a resource but won't likely be doing this for free. I do see a process where smaller companies are going to be allowed to access the data entry screens from the CPSC website using a special logon and portal. 

The “new” CPSC Product Registry will allow importers, or their designees, to enter the certificate data elements via a user interface, batch upload, and/or Application Programing Interface (API) upload. The user interface is a step-by-step process, where the importer submits one certificate at a time. The batch upload allows the importer to submit multiple certificates using a Comma-Separated Value template. The API upload allows the importer to build an API connection via the product registry and their data systems to instantaneously enter certificates. Clearly, this is going to involve some training on the brand side of the equation.

So, for example, if you import 10 SKUs, or more or less all of the same model bike widget with 10 colors, every time you get a container shipped from Asia, you will know what the test requirement is for the widget, and you will have it tested by the manufacturer, unless it's a child widget, and that data will pretty much be cut and pasted each time using a CSV data spreadsheet. But it will need to be changed if you change suppliers or test requirements or anything else on the product changes, usually SKU’s changes.

Import enforcement currently lacking

The whole rationale for this rule change and disruption is as follows: Currently, CPSC's import enforcement methodology is labor-intensive and lacks an efficient means of using product-specific data to identify potentially non-compliant products. CPSC co-locates staff alongside CBP staff at ports of entry to target shipments for examination.

Once identified, staff request that CBP place a shipment on hold and transport it to an examination station for CPSC inspection; an examination hold creates delay that costs businesses and CPSC time and money. Accordingly, stakeholders and CPSC have a common interest in reducing examinations of compliant products and maximizing examinations of products that are likely to be violative. Currently, certificates are collected only after a shipment is stopped for examination; certificate data are not used to target shipments for examination. Using certificate data for more precise targeting would maximize examination efficiency for stakeholders and staff.

Using certificate data can also improve CPSC's ability to target low-value shipments. CPSC's current targeting capabilities were designed for larger commercial shipments for which the commission receives CBP data. CPSC's port staff is currently unable to pinpoint with a high degree of certainty potentially non-compliant and hazardous products in low-value shipments, which CBP refers to as “de minimis shipments,” and international mail shipments. 

As we all know the de minimis shipments to consumers of batteries below an $800 value is where we are having a problem with low-quality batteries. But this new certificates filing rule won't fix the e-bike battery problem as there is not currently a CPSC standard specifically regarding batteries and as such no certificate filing will be required.

The biggest issue I see right now is that the SNPR proposes a 120-day effective date for a final rule. So that means after the comments on this rule are received, I expect that the rule will be final in less than six months, and once that happens, there will be another six months to get ready for the enforcement. Hopefully, that will be enough time for the industry to get ready.

This is going to be a four-step process for each product: First, companies need to decide what CPSC rules pertain to their specific products; second, they need to determine if they are products intended for kids under 12 (a whole other analysis); third, they need to decide on a test protocol for their products and whether it can be done in house or requires a CPSC certified lab (see Step 2); then finally they need to set up an account with CPSC and learn the methods by which they have to enter all this data on an ongoing basis and how that data entry timeline coincides with the timely shipment and receiving of the product. 

Clearly there is lots of work to be done on this by brands. Our office is going to be assisting clients with this issue going forward as there are a number of issues that have to be dealt with that are more legal than scientific or logistical but the latter two issues are surely ones that must be addressed as well.

Steven W. Hansen is an attorney who represents product manufacturers, distributors and retailers in product liability and other lawsuits and provides consultation on all matters related to the manufacture and distribution of e-bikes and other consumer products. For further questions visit www.swhlaw.com or email legal.inquiry@swhlaw.com

 The information in this article is subject to change and may not be applicable in your state or country. It is intended as a thought-provoking discussion of general legal principles and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.


Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2020 Conditions of Use

July 8, 2023

Congress tries to force CPSC to create mandatory standards for lithium batteries under the "Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act” introduced in March 2023

As we all know CPSC has been trying for force manufactures of e bikes and other related mobility devices to use existing UL standards in the manufacture of these devices. The worst offenders will of course ignore these polite non binding requests. We also know the CPSC is going to have a meeting in July 2023 to "discuss" batteries but we really are not sure what will come of such meeting(s). In the past the CPSC has resisted calls to create mandatory standards when in their opinion a voluntary standard seems to be solving the problem. (see 15 USC 2058)  Many have argued the voluntary UL standards are not working as adherence to them is low and only done by high end manufacturers. So Congress has stepped in under Senate bill 1008 introduced in March 2023. (in the same way they did to force the CPSC to create the massively confusing lead laws and related laws under CPSIA in 2008) Stay tuned to this blog for updates on the status of this bill.

Senate Bill 1008 (March 2023) (related bill HR 1797)

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act”.

SEC. 2. Consumer product safety standard for certain batteries.

(c) Treatment of standard.—A consumer product safety standard promulgated under subsection (a) shall be treated as a consumer product safety rule promulgated under section 9 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2058).

Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2023 Conditions of Use

June 5, 2023

CPSC Lithium-Ion Battery Safety; Notice of Meeting on July 27 2023 and Request for Comments

UPDATE 8/1/23: Today I received a Federal Register notice of the CPSC's "Semiannual Regulatory Agenda" just days after the meeting below. What stands out to me is that this document "...includes an agenda of regulations that the Commission expects to develop or review during the next 12 months." and there is no mention or reference at all in this very long document about ebikes, lithium batteries, bicycles or 16 CFR part 1512 (the bicycle and e bike regulation). Again these come out twice a year and we know that Congress is pushing CPSC to regulate ebikes via this bill but I don't thinks its likely that there will be anything significant happening at CPSC re batteries or ebikes until this bill passes. I might be wrong but I don't think anyone should be holding their breath in the next 12 mo for some regulations coming forth from the CPSC on the issues in the meeting referenced below. The proposed de minimus bill (H.R.4148 - Import Security and Fairness Act 118th Congress (2023-2024)) may also help the battery import situation well before CPSC acts.

Prior Post June 5 2023:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will be holding a meeting on lithium-ion battery safety, with a specific focus on fires occurring in e-bikes and other micro-mobility products as well as the fire risks that may arise with the growing consumer market for other products containing such batteries. They are inviting interested parties to participate in or attend the meeting. A remote viewing option will be available for registrants. CPSC also invites interested parties to submit written comments related to the issues discussed in the notice.

There was allegedly going to be broader rulemaking announced on human powered bikes and or all of 16 CFR part 1512 as well but that notice has not yet appeared. That story appeared in Bicycle Retailer. It is not clear if this current notice is related to the notice discussed in Bicycle Retailer

If you wish to submit written comments for the record, you may do so before or after the meeting, as described in the ADDRESSES section of the notice. These written comments should be received by no later than August 21, 2023.  Please refer to the notice for the topics that the CPSC would like to see addressed.

Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright |

December 28, 2022

Class three (3) e bikes in CA now must be specifically prohibited on an equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail.

I am not sure why or who (outside the legislature) initiated this California bill in Feb. 2022. The purpose is to allow class 3 bikes anywhere a class 1 or 2 bike is allowed by default. Unless of course the city or the county (or some other CA state local jurisdiction) disallow class 1, 2 or 3 bikes on some specific path or area under their control. I think the intent here here is that the Legislature assumed that most local entities wont take any action on this unless there is a real problem locally.  Like Del Mar CA as an example. I do not think allowing class 3 on class 1 bike paths (and other places) was the intent of the original model legislation passed around by People for Bikes. This also raises more issues with respect to class 3 classification jurisdiction as has been raised by the US Consumer Product Protection Agency (CPSC) lately. FYI the reference to "motorized bicycle" below in pink means basically a moped like device that does not go over 30 mph. See details here (CCV sec 406)   So the legislature at least smartly preserved that exception. However I don't see much difference between a moped and class 3 devices functionally or speed wise and quite frankly the ebikes on the class 1 bikeways I see now likely do not even meet CA class 3 requirements. I really DON'T think class 3 ebikes are appropriate on Class 1 bikeways (those completely separate and not near roads) but quite frankly nothing has been done to enforce or even post the existing law on most class 1 bike paths in CA to date so I don't see this as having much of an effect.

[ Approved by CA Governor September 16, 2022. Filed with Secretary of State September 16, 2022. ]
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

[swh note: I have left in the red and blue original editing in the bill markups]

AB 1909, as amended, Friedman. Vehicles: bicycle omnibus bill.
Existing law generally regulates the operation of bicycles upon a highway. A violation of these provisions, generally, is punishable as an infraction.
(1) Existing law prohibits the operation of a motorized bicycle or a class 3 electric bicycle on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, as specified. Existing law authorizes a local authority to additionally prohibit the operation of class 1 and class 2 electric bicycles on these facilities.
This bill would remove the prohibition of class 3 electric bicycles on these facilities and would remove the authority of a local jurisdiction to prohibit class 1 and class 2 electric bicycles on these facilities. The bill would instead authorize a local authority to prohibit the operation of a class 3 any electric bicycle at a motor-assisted speed greater than 20 miles per hour. or any class of electric bicycle on an equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail.

SECTION 1.

 Section 21207.5 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

21207.5.
 (a) Notwithstanding Sections 21207 and 23127 of this code, or any other law, a motorized bicycle shall not be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by ordinance, that operation.
(b) The local authority or governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over an equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, may prohibit, by ordinance, the operation of an electric bicycle or any class of electric bicycle on that trail.
(c) The Department of Parks and Recreation may prohibit the operation of an electric bicycle or any class of electric bicycle on any bicycle path or trail within the department’s jurisdiction.




Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2020 Conditions of Use

September 18, 2021

Amazon's new 'guarantee' policy seeks to mollify consumers, streamline claims process

Originally Published in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News 
Reprinted with permission 

August 17, 2021

Amazon just announced a new type of "guarantee" or "support" that it is calling the A-to-Z Guarantee (AZG). Actually, this is not new; it was introduced more than 20 years ago, but is now "improved." In Amazon's own words, from its full official press release:

"Now, in the unlikely event a defective product sold through Amazon.com causes property damage or personal injury, Amazon will directly pay customers for claims under $1,000 — which account for more than 80% of cases — at no cost to sellers, and may step in to pay claims for higher amounts if the seller is unresponsive or rejects a claim we believe to be valid."

Interestingly, in the fine print (A-to-z Claims Process Terms and Conditions), Amazon also states, "The Process is not insurance or a warranty, and it does not replace any applicable insurance or warranty that may be available to you."

As you can see there are a lot of loaded words in this AZG press release, what my contracts professor liked to call "weasel words." It's hard to imagine any personal injury or property damage claims being "resolved" for under $1,000. The other issue that is left somewhat in the dark is what would be in the release that Amazon surely would require a consumer to sign. I suspect it would be a global release barring any suit against anyone or any company from future claims. And of course, the issue of what to do with minors under 18 is not addressed. Those settlements require court approval. Further reading of the details notes that you would also have to assign all your claims rights to Amazon ... "so that we can pursue recovery from other sources in our discretion."

What is more interesting is how Amazon will fund this. One has to assume the money is not coming out of Jeff Bezos' yacht fund, given how many claims this would likely encompass. On the one hand, this is AZG is only for products sold through Amazon.com (presumably Fulfillment by Amazon) and apparently does not cover those items sold through any "third-party sites" (Fulfillment by Merchant). This will add confusion to the process, especially with consumers as most do not know if they are getting an FBA product or FBM product. Some aspects of the AZG cover FBM, but the new part regarding injury claims apparently does not. One has to assume this funding is being arranged through Amazon's insurance coverage, the suppliers' coverage (naming Amazon as "additional insured"), or perhaps through Amazon withholding payment to sellers for claims that it has deemed "bonafide" (or a combination of all three sources). Amazon insists this payment is at "no cost to sellers." However, upon further reading, Amazon only commits to "Pay valid claims less than $1,000 and not seek reimbursement from sellers who have valid insurance." We assume "valid" insurance would mean insurance that actually pays Amazon for the claim; if it does not pay the claim, then Amazon could go after the seller directly.

After further reading the Terms And Conditions, it states "Any offers of compensation made through the A-to-z Claims Process will be limited to (a) the purchase price of the product; and (b) compensation of up to $1 million for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage approximately caused by a defective product. Amazon will not offer to compensate you for non-economic damages, business losses, consequential and incidental damages, attorney fees, punitive damages, or other losses." So it seems the payment limit is much higher than the $1,000 limit. But Amazon will only step in above that limit if the seller's insurance kicks in. It also appears that no "pain and suffering" amounts will be paid, which makes up the vast majority of most settlements and verdicts, and so the reality is for any sizable personal injury claims this process is not realistically going to resolve anything.

As a further restriction, you only have 90 days to make an AZG claim, whereas under most state laws, you would have 2-5 years to bring suit and typically for minors until they are 18. Also, all other terms and conditions apply to the AZG Claims process, including but not limited to choice of law and dispute resolution provisions. One would have to assume that it would be a binding arbitration proceeding and that the company providing the arbitrators would find itself out of business quickly if it were deciding against Amazon too often.

Again the more interesting part of this deal is the funding, administration and the entire claims process, which brings us to part two of the equation: liability insurance. Amazon partnered with Marsh McLennan, the largest insurance broker in the world, and a number of U.S. insurers to offer insurance to its sellers. Per the Amazon seller central site: "Effective September 1, 2021, once you reach $10,000 in gross proceeds in any month, you are required under your selling agreement with Amazon to carry commercial liability insurance with limits of at least $1 million in the aggregate and name Amazon as an additional insured" and of course the "stick" part: "If you do not obtain the required insurance, we will seek reimbursement for costs we incur in resolving claims, regardless of sales thresholds, unless we agree to waive our right to reimbursement. We may also restrict you from selling in a particular category or even suspend your account until you provide proof of insurance." Of course, Amazon sellers remain free to use their own insurance brokers and insurer to obtain the required insurance, and it remains to be seen if the Amazon consortium of brokers and insurers ends up being cheaper.

In addition to leaving out the FBM side of Amazon, the insurance program appears to be open only to U.S.-based sellers. This of course is a huge loophole in the entire process as most of what Amazon sells is from sellers outside the U.S. That of course is a much thornier problem that Amazon's AZG process does not seem to deal with at all. It's not clear what percentage of non-U.S. manufactured goods are actually sold to Amazon by third-party sellers within the U.S. on the FBA side.

Surely, the state court's assault — or rather plaintiff attorneys' assault on Amazon — in the last two years (with most of the anti-Amazon appellate rulings coming out in the last 12 months) has had some role in this new process being rolled out. As I and the courts predicted after the Bolger v Amazon case this would accelerate Amazon's process of passing the "product liability" cost along to its sellers and forcing them to get coverage. This is exactly what the courts in their rulings have stated; that a large player in the consumer products marketplace, like Amazon, has the financial clout and bargaining strength to require its millions of sellers to get the required insurance. The courts were right. Amazon is doing just what they predicted. Holding Amazon liable as a seller has forced it to push that liability back upstream.

Finally, there is Amazon's fight with the CPSC, which may also be somewhat related to this. Amazon may be using this new AZG accelerated claims process to burnish its image with the CPSC, portraying itself as a responsible company that cares about consumers and their safety. But again the recall responsibility is separate from the product liability responsibility (although the two are linked) and it remains to be seen who will win in the CPSC fight.

There are many unanswered questions on this process, and surely changes will be implemented as Amazon goes along or it might totally change the program. We also do not know to what extent the plaintiff's bar will create ancillary litigation just out of this process alone. I am sure that Walmart.com and other large platforms trying to compete with Amazon are watching closely. Infusing this much insurance coverage and related administration costs into the consumer goods market that was previously uninsured is not only going to cause consumer goods price inflation, as if we don't have enough already, but there will be a huge shift of money into insurance coffers. With increased prices we know who benefits. Amazon. We also do not know what percentage of FBA (or FBM) sellers are uninsured currently.

Another thing we know about Amazon is that it likes to take over many aspects related to consumer product sales (after watching third parties work in a market segment for years like FedEx). Look at Amazon Web Services and Amazon shipping for example. So the next question is when will Amazon get into the lucrative insurance brokerage market or claims administration business? Amazon has certainly upped its game in the consumer goods business. It will be very interesting to watch this play out over the next two years.

Steven W. Hansen is an attorney who represents product manufacturers, distributors and retailers in product liability and other lawsuits and provides consultation on all matters related to the manufacture and distribution of e-bikes and other consumer products. For further questions visit www.swhlaw.com or email legal.inquiry@swhlaw.com

The information in this column is subject to change and may not be applicable in your state or country. It is intended as a thought-provoking discussion of general legal principles and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.


Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2020 Conditions of Use

July 16, 2021

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed an administrative complaint against Amazon.com, on July 14 2021 to force it to recall certain consumer products

The CPSC does not actually have the ability to "force" a US company to undertake a "voluntary recall". The vast majority of CPSC recalls are basically undertaken voluntarily. The degree of how voluntary or involuntary they are often depends on the nature of the safety problem, how widespread it is and also on the size of the company. Again in the vast majority of cases, such as recently with Peloton, the company relents and agrees to conduct a "voluntary" recall under the control of CPSC. In some cases however the CPSC either has to back down and accept what remediation and notification that has been done, or like in this case with Amazon, it literally has to sue Amazon to "force" it to recall the products under CPSC guidelines with the CPSC calling the shots (as usual) on the specifics of how the notifications will be sent out, what they say, the remedies etc.  The suit itself is quite a good read (and educational) and details the position the CPSC is asserting on Amazon's role in the sales and returns process and why it should be forced to undertake the recall (not the overseas manufacturers which the CPSC has no control over). Its quite an eyeopener. This is nothing short of extraordinary for the CPSC to do and again it only does so in egregious situations where it is quite certain a judge will agree with its findings. 

Obviously we would never counsel any of our clients to take such a step unless there were good reasons not to conduct a recall, but of course if that was the case the CPSC would not likely be suing the company. We always recommend cooperating with the CPSC (but only through counsel) if you plan on conducting a recall for a host of related legal reasons. It will be interesting to watch this suit play out. No doubt the CPSC felt emboldened by a number of recent court decisions like this one in California holding Amazon legally responsible for the distribution of allegedly defective products.

Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2020 Conditions of Use

April 13, 2015

Comment period closing April 15 2015 on Prohibition of Children's Toys and Child Care Articles Containing Specified Phthalates

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) comment period to permanently ban certain phthalates closes in a few days (April 15) unless they agree to extend the comment period. If your products contain any type of phthalates its a good idea to at least review this regulation and comment here. On December 30, 2014, the Commission published an Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) in the Federal Register proposing to prohibit children's toys and child care articles containing specified phthalates. (79 FR 78324). This was a well written article about the upcoming vote/issue.

Here is a refresher on whether your product might be at issue in this regulation:

Section 108(a) of the CPSIA permanently prohibits the manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribution in commerce, or importation into the United States of any ‘‘children’s toy or child care article’’ that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP). Section 108(b)(1) of the CPSIA prohibits on an interim basis (i.e., until the Commission promulgates a final rule), the manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribution in commerce, or importation into the United States of ‘‘any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth’’ or ‘‘child care article’’ containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP). The CPSIA defines a ‘‘children’s toy’’ as ‘‘a consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child 12 years of age or younger for use by the child when the child plays.’’ Id. Section 108(g)(1)(B). A ‘‘child care article’’ is defined as ‘‘a consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep or the feeding of children age 3 and younger, or to help such children with sucking or teething.’’ Id. Section 108(g)(1)(C). A ‘‘toy can be placed in a child’s mouth if any part of the toy can actually be brought to the mouth and kept in the mouth by a child so that it can be sucked and chewed. If the children’s product can only be licked, it is not regarded as able to be placed in the mouth. If a toy or part of a toy in one dimension is smaller than 5 centimeters, it can be placed in the mouth.’’ Id. Section 108(g)(2)(B). These statutory prohibitions became effective in February 2009. The interim prohibitions remain in effect until the Commission issues a final rule determining whether to make the interim prohibitions permanent. Id. Section 108(b)(1).


Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2013 Conditions of Use

January 24, 2014

Legal analysis: Confusion over electric bike regulations


Published July 29, 2013 in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
Republished with permission

by Steven W Hansen

After reading two articles in BRAIN’s June 15, 2013 issue (“Speedy e-bikes trouble industry” and “NYC e-bike crackdown exposes legal morass”) as well as a follow up letter to the editor in the July 1, 2013 edition, I was compelled to respond to some apparent misunderstanding by some as to what the “laws and regulations” are with respect to electric bikes and how they do and don’t work together.

First of all there is quite a bit of confusion regarding terminology. I am going to use the phrase “electric bikes” to cover all “bicycles” (not stand on scooters without a seat) which have an “electric motor” to (help) propel them. The industry has evolved into “low speed” electric bikes and “high speed” electric bikes and various configurations which require no pedaling (or may not even have pedals) to the various “pedal assist” varieties, in which the motor wont help you unless you help it. But I digress.

Before 2003 there was really very little in the way of laws or regulations dealing with electric bikes. California passed a few laws in 1998 dealing with what at the time was a new phenomenon and those laws still exist today (more on that later). But the main event that started the ball rolling was when the bicycle industry was able to get Congress to pass a law amending the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) definition of a “bicycle” to include “low speed electric bicycles” which is defined as a “two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.

This did help clarify the CPSC’s jurisdiction. Before 2003 there was a legitimate question if CPSC had “regulatory” authority over all electric bikes (as “consumer products”, its generally mandated scope of authority) or if it overlapped the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and its sub agency the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA defined (and regulated) “motor vehicles” (and still does today) as a “vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on the public streets, roads, and highways…”

From the 2003 change in the regulations it was clear that the CPSC only wanted to carve out a small(er) part of the “electric bike” market to similarly regulate as “bicycles” (no new regulations were adopted to deal with the manufacture of electric bikes, just the definition).

Unfortunately this still left NHTSA holding the bag sort of speak on what to do with all the “other” electric “devices” not regulated under CPSC’s new 2003 “carve out”. Before 2005 NHTSA had taken a somewhat ad hoc approach to requests for clarifications from electric or “motorized” bicycle manufacturers (and others) as to whether specific devices were “motor vehicles” or not. But after the CPSC acted in 2003 NHTSA then began a “notice of draft interpretation and request for comments” (aka “rulemaking” without intervention by Congress) in 2005 to help clarify when certain two and three wheeled motorized devices would be deemed “vehicles” and regulated by NHTSA and when they would not be. The problem of course is that one agency can only determine the scope of its own regulatory authority, not that of another agency. NHTSA placed great emphasis on the 20 mph limit that CPSC focused on. They also differentiated a ‘‘Motor-driven cycle’’ previously defined as “motorcycle” “with a motor that produces 5-brake horsepower or less.’’ NHTSA adopted the 20 mph limit as a more decisive factor as opposed to previous rulings as it concluded “that the maximum speed of a vehicle with on-road capabilities is largely determinative of whether the vehicle was manufactured to operate on a public road, in normal moving traffic, and therefore a ‘‘motor vehicle.’’

Unfortunately the method to determine that speed was much more involved than the CPSC’s method and could yield slightly different results. Also the “draft interpretation” remained vague for two and three-wheeled vehicles with a speed capability of 20 mph or greater. Those vehicles would be excluded from the definition of ‘‘motor vehicle’’ if they were manufactured primarily for off-road use. To determine that question NHTSA would again revert to the case by case approach of looking at the physical features of the vehicle to see if was intended for on or off road use. Again NHTSA does not regulate any off road vehicles like off road motorcycles for instance. Those all fall under CPSC jurisdiction (by default, if it’s a “consumer product”), yet there are no CPSC regulations specifically for such electrically powered devices (if they don’t meet the CPSC definition of a “low speed electric bicycle”). Finally, the NHTSA 2005 “draft interpretation” is still in “draft” stage and is no more binding that any opinion letter from NHTSA. It is not a regulation like CPSC’s electric bike definition and from discussing the matter with the NHTSA legal department there is nothing indicating that will change any time soon.

The electric bike manufacturers and distributors are for the most part satisfied with the way the laws are currently written (or at least interpreted) at the federal level. However some would like to see better and more clear regulation of the over 20 mph category as they apparently are trying to do in the EU with “fast or speed pedelecs.”

The trickier issue of course was raised once again in the article “NYC e-bike crackdown exposes legal morass” which brings to light what many fail to realize about the federal regulations. First none of the electric bikes that fall within the regulations (under 20 mph) have any specific regulations directed at electric bikes other than simply defining what is and to some extent what is not an electric bike (neither NHTSA or CPSC have regulations covering the motors or throttle devices, for example).

Over the years states have basically borrowed NHTSA’s definition of a motor vehicle along with all the regulations governing their manufacture and have incorporated those into their state laws. States have similarly regulated bicycles utilizing the 1973 CPSC bicycle standard as a basis. But with electric bicycles the process seemed to happen in reverse. Electric bicycles popped up and states, caught by surprise, felt they needed to deal with them on their roads and sidewalks, as CPSC and NHTSA failed to timely regulate their manufacture. Some of these laws unfortunately also had to define what the state felt an electric bike was and was not and in some cases this can conflict with federal law.

The other problem is that these federal regulations only affect the manufacture and first sale of these devices, not where, when, how, who and under what other conditions (age limits, licenses, insurance, registration etc.) they can be operated. The federal law has no “preemptive effect” over such state laws. These issues have always traditionally been regulated by state laws and in some cases even county and city laws. This is also true for cars, trucks and traditional non-powered bikes. CPSC mandates how bicycles must be tested and sold and what standards bicycle helmets must meet in their testing and construction but it does not mandate that riders must use the helmets while riding bicycles. That is left up to states or cities to regulate. The same was true for bicycle headlights and tail lights. CPSC does not require them on bikes but most state laws do if riding on road at night. This issue was hotly contested in a serious injury case some years back.

I approached the electric bike industry in 1995-2000 with a two pronged approach; Try to develop some voluntary standards for electric bikes that could be adopted by NHTSA or CPSC (much like they adopted the ASTM bicycle helmet standard) and then try to use model “use” legislation at the state level incorporating the ASTM standards and classifications. The proposal drew interest but was not acted upon by enough influential companies at the time. This legislative approach was somewhat followed by Google with it driverless car legislation passed in California and Nevada recently. Segway also tried a similar approach to pave the way for sales of its totally new type of device.

But the electric bike industry is following the traditional, difficult and time consuming approach. Let consumers buy the products and once a critical mass of the devises is in use there will be legislative “fixes” to accommodate the safe use of mainstream devices. The problem of course is that this is a car centric country, where drivers don’t like bikes of any kind on “their” roads, and many state legislators don’t really like Washington DC’s approach to anything. This was clear in the comments from states to NHTSA’s proposed regulation in 2005. Hopefully this method will work as it may be too late for the “pave the way with legislation first” method. The EU also tried to get a regulatory framework in place before the market was flooded with various devices and in some respects it worked as the EU market is much larger than the US market right now for electric bikes. There are other reasons as well.

Another issue to keep in mind are what some refer to as “fast” electric bicycles, which can travel over 20 mph solely on motor power. The fact that these “fast” electric bikes can travel over 20 mph solely on motor power takes them outside the scope of the CPSC definition of a “low speed electric bicycle”. Some sellers of these “fast” electric bikes claim that these bikes are designed for “off road” use. However, this may be a way to get around the CPSC and NHTSA regulations (and possibly some state laws), since some of these bikes appear to be designed for road use, as opposed to “off road” use (using the NHTSA interpretations). These “fast” e-bikes are causing debates in some states, notably in New York as noted in the article “NYC e-bike crackdown exposes legal morass”.

As pointed out above, the CPSC’s definition of an electric bike centers around a 20 mph limit, with the caveat that this 20 mph must not be exceeded if the electric bike is solely powered by its motor. Accordingly, this definition permits an electric bike which is powered by its rider (with the possible assistance of a motor, making the electric bike what some call a “pedelec”) to travel faster than 20 mph. The distinction is key to a correct interpretation of the CPSC’s definition.

Lastly, on a related topic altogether, some people appear to be confused about where the regulations fit in to the overall scheme of things in terms of liability. If a rider is injured by or on an electric bike, compliance with a regulation or standard (mandatory or otherwise) is not going to be of much help other than possibly being persuasive. (read more on that here). However failure to comply with a regulation (that is applicable) really can create an uphill battle in court. But again the facts of each specific case will be vastly different and drawing conclusions from specific cases will be difficult.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see what develops out of New York and if there is a state or city wide solution. As most in the industry know trying to lobby government officials to your point of view is a tricky business and fraught with pitfalls.

Steven W. Hansen an attorney who defends product manufacturers, distributors and retailers in product liability lawsuits and provides consultation on all matters related to the manufacture and distribution of consumer products. For further questions visit www.swhlaw.com or send an e mail to: legal.inquiry@swhlaw.com

The information in this column is subject to change and may not be applicable in your state. It is intended as a thought provoking discussion of general legal principles and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.



Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | www.swhlaw.com | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2013 Conditions of Use

August 2, 2011

CPSIA "fixes" passed in the Consumer Product Safety Flexibility Act of 2011 [August 1, 2011]


Below is the final version of H.R. 2715 with the snappy title of "To provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission with greater authority and discretion in enforcing the consumer product safety laws, and for other purposes." that was sponsored by Rep Bono Mack, Mary [CA-45] and "introduced " on August 1, 2011, interestingly/amazingly with the same "effective date" (and of course this has not yet been signed by the President). On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, it was passed in the house of representatives as follows: 421 yes votes and 2 votes against (Roll no. 683). It was Passed/agreed to in Senate without amendment by "Unanimous Consent". We do not have the senate version of the bill at the time of posting. The Senate version is apparently titled the "Consumer Product Safety Flexibility Act of 2011" and we think is under number S. 1448. (However as of this posting the bill text under S. 1448 did not match that of the House bill below [HR 2715] and appears to be outdated info) (see the House press release after the end of the bill).

This bill primarily fixes the new CPSC/CPSIA 100 ppm lead requirement, which is/was set to take effect August 14, and would make it impossible to sell merchandise that is already on the shelves. Under the bill below (section 1), only products manufactured after August 14, 2011 will have to meet the 100 ppm lead standard, allowing older products to be sold under the higher lead limits in effect before August 14. This was the primary impetus to get the bill passed before August 14. There is quite a bit packed in this relatively short bill so have a quick read below and see if the provisions will affect your business.

This bill and the path it has taken is an example of why people are very frustrated with Congress and getting legislation passed in general. These "legislative" fixes have been getting passed around in backrooms for months and when they finally did come to a "vote" the "fix" was already in and they sailed thru in minutes or seconds on votes that were purely formalities. There was really no warning that this would be passed when it did or in this fashion. If you did not get what you wanted in here well that's too bad because you are not likely to see any further relief for some time. Apparently Congress is going to be in recess until after Labor day as they had to work so hard to pass the debt ceiling bill.

H.R.2715 -- To provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission with greater authority and discretion in enforcing the consumer product safety laws, and for other purposes. (Engrossed in House [Passed House] - EH)

SECTION 1. LIMITATION ON LEAD IN CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS.

SEC. 2. APPLICATION OF THIRD PARTY TESTING REQUIREMENTS.

SEC. 3. APPLICATION OF AND PROCESS FOR UPDATING DURABLE NURSERY PRODUCTS STANDARDS.

SEC. 4. APPLICATION OF SECTION 106 TO FDA-REGULATED PRODUCTS.

SEC. 5. APPLICATION OF PHTHALATES LIMIT.

SEC. 6. AUTHORITY TO MODIFY TRACKING LABELS REQUIREMENT.

SEC. 7. IMPROVED PRODUCT IDENTIFICATION FOR PUBLIC DATABASE.

SEC. 8. SUBPOENA AUTHORITY.

SEC. 9. DEADLINE FOR RULE BY CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION ON STANDARDS FOR ALL TERRAIN VEHICLES.

SEC. 10. TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS.

SEC. 11. EFFECTIVE DATE.


AN ACT

To provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission with greater authority and discretion in enforcing the consumer product safety laws, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. LIMITATION ON LEAD IN CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS.

(a) Prospective Application of Lead Limit for Children's Products- Section 101(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 1278a(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(3) APPLICATION- Each limit set forth in paragraph (2) (except for the limit set forth in subparagraphs (A) and (B)) shall apply only to a children's product (as defined in section 3(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2052(a))) that is manufactured after the effective date of such respective limit.'.

(b) Alternative Limits and Exceptions- Section 101(b) of such Act (15 U.S.C. 1278a(b)(1)) is amended--

(1) by striking paragraph (1) and inserting the following:

`(1) FUNCTIONAL PURPOSE EXCEPTION-

`(A) IN GENERAL- The Commission, on its own initiative or upon petition by an interested party, shall grant an exception to the limit in subsection (a) for a specific product, class of product, material, or component part if the Commission, after notice and a hearing, determines that--

`(i) the product, class of product, material, or component part requires the inclusion of lead because it is not practicable or not technologically feasible to manufacture such product, class of product, material, or component part, as the case may be, in accordance with subsection (a) by removing the excessive lead or by making the lead inaccessible;

`(ii) the product, class of product, material, or component part is not likely to be placed in the mouth or ingested, taking into account normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of such product, class of product, material, or component part by a child; and

`(iii) an exception for the product, class of product, material, or component part will have no measurable adverse effect on public health or safety, taking into account normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse.

`(B) MEASUREMENT- For purposes of subparagraph (A)(iii), there is no measurable adverse effect on public health or safety if the exception described in subparagraph (A) will result in no measurable increase in blood lead levels of a child. The Commission may adopt an alternative method of measurement other than blood lead levels if it determines, after notice and a hearing, that such alternative method is a better scientific method for measuring adverse effect on public health and safety.

`(C) PROCEDURES FOR GRANTING EXCEPTION-

`(i) BURDEN OF PROOF- A party seeking an exception under subparagraph (A) has the burden of demonstrating that it meets the requirements of such subparagraph.

`(ii) GROUNDS FOR DECISION- In the case where a party has petitioned for an exception, in determining whether to grant the exception, the Commission may base its decision solely on the materials presented by the party seeking the exception and any materials received through notice and a hearing.

`(iii) ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE- In demonstrating that it meets the requirements of subparagraph (A), a party seeking an exception under such subparagraph may rely on any nonproprietary information submitted by any other party seeking such an exception and such information shall be considered part of the record presented by the party that relies on that information.

`(iv) SCOPE OF EXCEPTION- If an exception is sought for an entire product, the burden is on the petitioning party to demonstrate that the criteria in subparagraph (A) are met with respect to every accessible component or accessible material of the product.

`(D) LIMITATION ON EXCEPTION- If the Commission grants an exception for a product, class of product, material, or component part under subparagraph (A), the Commission may, as necessary to protect public health or safety--

`(i) establish a lead limit that such product, class of product, material, or component part may not exceed; or

`(ii) place a manufacturing expiration date on such exception or establish a schedule after which the manufacturer of such product, class of product, material, or component part shall be in full compliance with the limit established under clause (i) or the limit set forth in subsection (a).

`(E) APPLICATION OF EXCEPTION- An exception under subparagraph (A) for a product, class of product, material, or component part shall apply regardless of the date of manufacture unless the Commission expressly provides otherwise.

`(F) PREVIOUSLY SUBMITTED PETITIONS- A party seeking an exception under this paragraph may rely on materials previously submitted in connection with a petition for exclusion under this section. In such cases, petitioners must notify the Commission of their intent to rely on materials previously submitted. Such reliance does not affect petitioners' obligation to demonstrate that they meet all requirements of this paragraph as required by subparagraph (C)(i).';

(2) in paragraph (2)(A), by striking `include to,' and inserting `include'; and

(3) by redesignating paragraph (5) as paragraph (8) and inserting after paragraph (4) the following:

`(5) EXCEPTION FOR OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES-

`(A) IN GENERAL- Subsection (a) shall not apply to an off-highway vehicle.

`(B) OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE DEFINED- For purposes of this section, the term `off-highway vehicle'--

`(i) means any motorized vehicle--

`(I) that is manufactured primarily for use off public streets, roads, and highways;

`(II) designed to travel on 2, 3, or 4 wheels; and

`(III) that has either--

`(aa) a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control; or

`(bb) a nonstraddle seat, steering wheel, seat belts, and roll-over protective structure; and

`(ii) includes a snowmobile.

`(6) BICYCLES AND RELATED PRODUCTS- In lieu of the lead limits established in subsection (a)(2), the limits set forth for each respective material in the notice of the Commission entitled `Notice of Stay of Enforcement Pertaining to Bicycles and Related Products', published June 30, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 31254), shall apply to any metal component part of the products to which the stay of enforcement described in such notice applies, except that after December 31, 2011, the limits set forth in such notice shall not be more than 300 parts per million total lead content by weight for any metal component part of the products to which such stay pertains.

`(7) EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN USED CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS-

`(A) GENERAL EXCLUSION- The lead limits established under subsection (a) shall not apply to a used children's product.

`(B) DEFINITION- In this paragraph, the term `used children's product' means a children's product (as defined in section 3(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2052(a)) that was obtained by the seller for use and not for the purpose of resale or was obtained by the seller, either directly or indirectly, from a person who obtained such children's product for use and not for the purpose of resale. Such term also includes a children's product that was donated to the seller for charitable distribution or resale to support charitable purposes. Such term shall not include--

`(i) children's metal jewelry;

`(ii) any children's product for which the donating party or the seller has actual knowledge that the product is in violation of the lead limits in this section; or

`(iii) any other children's product or product category that the Commission determines, after notice and a hearing.

For purposes of this definition, the term `seller' includes a person who lends or donates a used children's product.'.

SEC. 2. APPLICATION OF THIRD PARTY TESTING REQUIREMENTS.

(a) In General- Section 14(d) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2063(d)) is amended--

(1) in paragraph (2)(B)(ii), by striking `random' and inserting `representative'; and

(2) by adding at the end the following:

`(3) REDUCING THIRD PARTY TESTING BURDENS-

`(A) ASSESSMENT- Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this paragraph, the Commission shall seek public comment on opportunities to reduce the cost of third party testing requirements consistent with assuring compliance with any applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation. The request for public comment shall include the following:

`(i) The extent to which the use of materials subject to regulations of another government agency that requires third party testing of those materials may provide sufficient assurance of conformity with an applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation without further third party testing.

`(ii) The extent to which modification of the certification requirements may have the effect of reducing redundant third party testing by or on behalf of 2 or more importers of a product that is substantially similar or identical in all material respects.

`(iii) The extent to which products with a substantial number of different components subject to third party testing may be evaluated to show compliance with an applicable rule, ban, standard, or regulation by third party testing of a subset of such components selected by a third party conformity assessment body.

`(iv) The extent to which manufacturers with a substantial number of substantially similar products subject to third party testing may reasonably make use of sampling procedures that reduce the overall test burden without compromising the benefits of third party testing.

`(v) The extent to which evidence of conformity with other national or international governmental standards may provide assurance of conformity to consumer product safety rules, bans, standards, or regulations applicable under this Act.

`(vi) The extent to which technology, other than the technology already approved by the Commission, exists for third party conformity assessment bodies to test or to screen for testing consumer products subject to a third party testing requirement.

`(vii) Other techniques for lowering the cost of third party testing consistent with assuring compliance with the applicable consumer product safety rules, bans, standards, and regulations.

`(B) REGULATIONS- Following the public comment period described in subparagraph (A), but not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this paragraph, the Commission shall review the public comments and may prescribe new or revised third party testing regulations if it determines that such regulations will reduce third party testing costs consistent with assuring compliance with the applicable consumer product safety rules, bans, standards, and regulations.

`(C) REPORT- If the Commission determines that it lacks authority to implement an opportunity for reducing the costs of third-party testing consistent with assuring compliance with the applicable consumer product safety rules, bans, standards, and regulations, it shall transmit a report to Congress reviewing those opportunities, along with any recommendations for any legislation to permit such implementation.

`(4) SPECIAL RULES FOR SMALL BATCH MANUFACTURERS-

`(A) SPECIAL CONSIDERATION; EXEMPTION-

`(i) CONSIDERATION; ALTERNATIVE REQUIREMENTS- Subject to subparagraph (C), in implementing third party testing requirements under this section, the Commission shall take into consideration any economic, administrative, or other limits on the ability of small batch manufacturers to comply with such requirements and shall, after notice and a hearing, provide alternative testing requirements for covered products manufactured by small batch manufacturers in lieu of those required under subsection (a) or (b). Any such alternative requirements shall provide for reasonable methods to assure compliance with any applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation. The Commission may allow such alternative testing requirements for small batch manufacturers with respect to a specific product or product class or with respect to a specific safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation, or portion thereof.

`(ii) EXEMPTION- If the Commission determines that no alternative testing requirement is available or economically practicable, it shall exempt small batch manufacturers from third party testing requirements under subsections (a) and (b).

`(iii) CERTIFICATION- In lieu of or as part of any alternative testing requirements provided under clause (i), the Commission may allow certification of a product to an applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation, or portion thereof, based on documentation that the product complies with another national or international governmental standard or safety requirement that the Commission determines is the same or more stringent than the consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation, or portion thereof. Any such certification shall only be allowed to the extent of the equivalency with a consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation and not to any other part of the consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation.

`(iv) RESTRICTION- Except as provided in subparagraph (C), and except where the Commission determines that the manufacturer does not meet the definition of a small batch manufacturer, for any small batch manufacturer registered pursuant to subparagraph (B), the Commission may not require third party testing of a covered product by a third party conformity assessment body until the Commission has provided either an alternative testing requirement or an exemption in accordance with clause (i) or (ii), respectively.

`(B) REGISTRATION- Any small batch manufacturer that utilizes alternative requirements or an exemption under this paragraph shall register with the Commission prior to using such alternative requirements or exemptions pursuant to any guidelines issued by the Commission to carry out this requirement.

`(C) LIMITATION- The Commission shall not provide or permit to continue in effect any alternative requirements or exemption from third party testing requirements under this paragraph where it determines, based on notice and a hearing, that full compliance with subsection (a) or (b) is reasonably necessary to protect public health or safety. The Commission shall not provide any alternative requirements or exemption for--

`(i) any of the third party testing requirements described in clauses (i) through (v) of subsection (a)(3)(B); or

`(ii) durable infant or toddler products, as defined in section 104(f) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 2056a(f)).

`(D) SUBSEQUENT MANUFACTURER- Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to affect third party testing or any other requirements with respect to a subsequent manufacturer or other entity that uses components provided by one or more small batch manufacturers.

`(E) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this paragraph--

`(i) the term `covered product' means a consumer product manufactured by a small batch manufacturer where no more than 7,500 units of the same product were manufactured in the previous calendar year; and

`(ii) the term `small batch manufacturer' means a manufacturer that had no more than $1,000,000 in total gross revenue from sales of all consumer products in the previous calendar year. The dollar amount contained in this paragraph shall be adjusted annually by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers published by the Department of Labor.

For purposes of determining the total gross revenue for all sales of all consumer products of a manufacturer under this subparagraph, such total gross revenue shall be considered to include all gross revenue from all sales of all consumer products of each entity that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with such manufacturer. The Commission shall take steps to ensure that all relevant business affiliations are considered in determining whether or not a manufacturer meets this definition.

`(5) EXCLUSION FROM THIRD PARTY TESTING-

`(A) CERTAIN PRINTED MATERIALS-

`(i) IN GENERAL- The third party testing requirements established under subsection (a) shall not apply to ordinary books or ordinary paper-based printed materials.

`(ii) DEFINITIONS-

`(I) ORDINARY BOOK- The term `ordinary book' means a book printed on paper or cardboard, printed with inks or toners, and bound and finished using a conventional method, and that is intended to be read or has educational value. Such term does not include books with inherent play value, books designed or intended for a child 3 years of age or younger, and does not include any toy or other article that is not a book that is sold or packaged with an ordinary book.

`(II) ORDINARY PAPER-BASED PRINTED MATERIALS- The term `ordinary paper-based printed materials' means materials printed on paper or cardboard, such as magazines, posters, greeting cards, and similar products, that are printed with inks or toners and bound and finished using a conventional method.

`(III) EXCLUSIONS- Such terms do not include books or printed materials that contain components that are printed on material other than paper or cardboard or contain nonpaper-based components such as metal or plastic parts or accessories that are not part of the binding and finishing materials used in a conventional method.

`(B) METAL COMPONENT PARTS OF BICYCLES- The third party testing requirements established under subsection (a) shall not apply to metal component parts of bicycles with respect to compliance with the lead content limits in place pursuant to section 101(b)(6) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.'.

(b) Prohibited Act- Section 19(a)(14) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2068(a)(14)) is amended by striking the period and inserting `, or to subdivide the production of any children's product into small quantities that have the effect of evading any third party testing requirements under section 14(a)(2);'.

SEC. 3. APPLICATION OF AND PROCESS FOR UPDATING DURABLE NURSERY PRODUCTS STANDARDS.

(a) Updating Standard- Section 104(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 2056a(b)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(4) PROCESS FOR CONSIDERING SUBSEQUENT REVISIONS TO VOLUNTARY STANDARD-

`(A) NOTICE OF ADOPTION OF VOLUNTARY STANDARD- When the Commission promulgates a consumer product safety standard under this subsection that is based, in whole or in part, on a voluntary standard, the Commission shall notify the organization that issued the voluntary standard of the Commission's action and shall provide a copy of the consumer product safety standard to the organization.

`(B) COMMISSION ACTION ON REVISED VOLUNTARY STANDARD- If an organization revises a standard that has been adopted, in whole or in part, as a consumer product safety standard under this subsection, it shall notify the Commission. The revised voluntary standard shall be considered to be a consumer product safety standard issued by the Commission under section 9 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2058), effective 180 days after the date on which the organization notifies the Commission (or such later date specified by the Commission in the Federal Register) unless, within 90 days after receiving that notice, the Commission notifies the organization that it has determined that the proposed revision does not improve the safety of the consumer product covered by the standard and that the Commission is retaining the existing consumer product safety standard.'.

(b) Application of Standard- Section 104(c) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 2056a(c)) is amended by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (4) and inserting after paragraph (2) the following:

`(3) APPLICATION OF ANY REVISION- With respect to any revision of the standard promulgated under subsection (b)(1)(B) subsequent to the initial promulgation of a standard under such subsection, paragraph (1) shall apply only to a person that manufactures or imports cribs, unless the Commission determines that application to any other person described in paragraph (2) is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk to health or safety. If the Commission determines that application to a person described in paragraph (2) is necessary, it shall provide not less than 12 months for such person to come into compliance.'.

SEC. 4. APPLICATION OF SECTION 106 TO FDA-REGULATED PRODUCTS.

Section 106(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 2056b(a)) is amended by inserting `or any provision that restates or incorporates a regulation promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration or any statute administered by the Food and Drug Administration' after `or by statute'.

SEC. 5. APPLICATION OF PHTHALATES LIMIT.

(a) Accessible, Plasticized Component Parts- Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 2057c) is amended--

(1) by redesignating subsections (c) through (e) as subsections (e) through (g), respectively; and

(2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following:

`(c) Application- Effective on the date of enactment of this Act, subsections (a) and (b)(1) and any rule promulgated under subsection (b)(3) shall apply to any plasticized component part of a children's toy or child care article or any other component part of a children's toy or child care article that is made of other materials that may contain phthalates.

`(d) Exclusion for Inaccessible Component Parts-

`(1) IN GENERAL- The prohibitions established under subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to any component part of a children's toy or child care article that is not accessible to a child through normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of such product, as determined by the Commission. A component part is not accessible under this paragraph if such component part is not physically exposed by reason of a sealed covering or casing and does not become physically exposed through reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of the product. Reasonably foreseeable use and abuse shall include swallowing, mouthing, breaking, or other children's activities, and the aging of the product.

`(2) LIMITATION- The Commission may revoke an exclusion or all exclusions granted under paragraph (1) at any time and require that any or all component parts manufactured after such exclusion is revoked comply with the prohibitions established under subsections (a) and (b) if the Commission finds, based on scientific evidence, that such compliance is necessary to protect the public health or safety.

`(3) INACCESSIBILITY PROCEEDING- Within 1 year after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Commission shall--

`(A) promulgate a rule providing guidance with respect to what product components, or classes of components, will be considered to be inaccessible for purposes of paragraph (1); or

`(B) adopt the same guidance with respect to inaccessibility that was adopted by the Commission with regards to accessibility of lead under section 101(b)(2)(B), with additional consideration, as appropriate, of whether such component can be placed in a child's mouth.

`(4) APPLICATION PENDING COMMISSION GUIDANCE- Until the Commission promulgates a rule pursuant to paragraph (3), the determination of whether a product component is inaccessible to a child shall be made in accordance with the requirements laid out in paragraph (1) for considering a component to be inaccessible to a child.'.

SEC. 6. AUTHORITY TO MODIFY TRACKING LABELS REQUIREMENT.

Section 14(a)(5) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2063(a)(5)) is amended--

(1) by striking `Effective 1 year' and inserting `(A) Effective 1 year';

(2) by redesignating subparagraphs (A) and (B) as clauses (i) and (ii), respectively; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:

`(B) The Commission may, by regulation, exclude a specific product or class of products from the requirements in subparagraph (A) if the Commission determines that it is not practicable for such product or class of products to bear the marks required by such subparagraph. The Commission may establish alternative requirements for any product or class of products excluded under the preceding sentence consistent with the purposes described in clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (A).'.

SEC. 7. IMPROVED PRODUCT IDENTIFICATION FOR PUBLIC DATABASE.

Section 6A(c) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2055a(c)) is amended--

(1) in paragraph (3)(A), by inserting `or paragraph (5)' after `paragraph (4)(A)';

(2) in paragraph (4)(A), by striking `determines that the information in such report or comment is materially inaccurate, the Commission shall--' and inserting `receives notice that the information in such report or comment is materially inaccurate, the Commission shall stay the publication of the report on the database as required under paragraph (3) for a period of no more than 5 additional days. If the Commission determines that the information in such report or comment is materially inaccurate, the Commission shall--'; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`(5) OBTAINING CERTAIN PRODUCT IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION-

`(A) IN GENERAL- If the Commission receives a report described in subsection (b)(1)(A) that does not include the model or serial number of the consumer product concerned, the Commission shall seek from the individual or entity submitting the report such model or serial number or, if such model or serial number is not available, a photograph of the product. If the Commission obtains information relating to the serial or model number of the product or a photograph of the product, it shall immediately forward such information to the manufacturer of the product. The Commission shall make the report available in the database on the 15th business day after the date on which the Commission transmits the report under paragraph (1) and shall include in the database any additional information about the product obtained under this paragraph.

`(B) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to--

`(i) permit the Commission to delay transmission of the report under paragraph (1) until the Commission has obtained the model or serial number or a photograph of the consumer product concerned; or

`(ii) make inclusion in the database of a report described in subsection (b)(1)(A) contingent on the availability of the model or serial number or a photograph of the consumer product concerned.'.

SEC. 8. SUBPOENA AUTHORITY.

Section 27(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2076(b)) is amended--

(1) in paragraph (3), by inserting `and physical' after `documentary';

(2) in paragraph (8), by striking `and';

(3) by redesignating paragraph (9) as paragraph (10) and inserting after paragraph (8) the following:

`(9) to delegate to the general counsel of the Commission the authority to issue subpoenas solely to Federal, State, or local government agencies for evidence described in paragraph (3); and'; and

(4) in paragraph (10) (as so redesignated), by inserting `(except as provided in paragraph (9))' after `paragraph (3)'.

SEC. 9. DEADLINE FOR RULE BY CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION ON STANDARDS FOR ALL TERRAIN VEHICLES.

The Commission shall issue the final rule described in section 42(d) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2089(d)) not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 10. TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS.

(a) CPSA- Section 14 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2063) is further amended by redesignating the second subsection (d) as subsection (i).

(b) CPSIA- Section 101(a)(1) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 1278a(a)(1)) is amended by striking `(as defined in section 3(a)(16) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2052(a)(16)))' and inserting `(as defined in section 3(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2052(a)))'.

SEC. 11. EFFECTIVE DATE.

Except as provided otherwise, the amendments made by this Act shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act.

Passed the House of Representatives August 1, 2011.

Press Release
House Votes to Protect Jobs and Reduce Regulatory Burdens on American Businesses


August 1, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to protect jobs and reduce onerous regulations with passage of H.R. 2715, a bill to provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission with greater authority and discretion in enforcing the consumer product safety laws. The measure passed the House with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 421 to 2.

The bill, authored by Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Ranking Member G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) makes important and necessary modifications to the troubled Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Congress had good intentions when it passed the CPSIA in 2008, but the law created a series of unintended consequences forcing small businesses to close their doors as a result of the law’s rigid restrictions and costly regulations.

The bill approved by the House today makes great strides toward cleaning up the regulatory mess created by the CPSIA, giving the Consumer Product Safety Commission the flexibility it needs to regulate based on risk. The bill’s changes aim to reduce the burden of the law while maintaining strong protections for children. The legislation includes provisions to ensure valuable store inventory is not wasted and to allow for the continued sale of used children’s items.

“For thousands of American businesses, which strive to be responsible, ‘let’s do what’s best for consumers,’ CPSIA has taken an inordinate amount of their time trying to understand how each new regulation and standard will affect them. Unfortunately, many have gone out of business, attributing their demise to the burdens of compliance,” said Bono Mack. “Today, we are striking a very careful balance. As a nation, we simply cannot afford to lose jobs or stifle innovation because of questionable regulations. But we also have an obligation to make certain that our children’s toys remain safe. This bill is a win-win. It’s good for American consumers and American businesses. I thank Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Waxman and my counterpart, Mr. Butterfield, for their dedication to this issue, and I urge the Senate to pass this important and time-sensitive legislation.”


 

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