CPSC – The Little Agency that Could

CPSC – The Little Agency that Could

This week I am attending the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) Annual Meeting and Training Symposium.  ICPHSO is an "organization dedicated to addressing health and safety issues related to consumer products marketed globally," and this conference brings together multiple stakeholders – including government, manufacturers, importers, retailers, certification/testing laboratories, law firms, academia, standards writing organizations, media and consumer advocacy groups – to gain insight into consumer product-related issues.

Today was U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Day, so I thought I would share a few things I learned from the informative presentations given by CPSC staff and CPSC Chair Inez Moore Tenenbaum:

  • The CPSC has published 48 rules, guidance documents, interpretations, etc. in the Federal Register since enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August 2008.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the CPSC is not focused solely on CPSIA implementation – work is ongoing on numerous other issues, including development of a reasonable testing program for non-children's producfts and addressing fire and carbon monoxide hazards, among others.
  • The CPSC currently is developing the public consumer product incident database mandated by the CPSIA, and expects to publish a noticed of proposed rulemaking on the database in March 2010. The goal is to take the public portal live by March 2011.
  • Compliance and enforcement efforts are increasing. For example, the CPSC now has 89 field investigators operating out of 55 locations in 40 states. The CPSC also has started undertaking joint recalls with Canada when necessary/warranted.
  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, the CPSC set a new record for the number of firms (39) agreeing to civil penalty settlements for product safety violations, up from 23 during FY 2008. The CPSC also set a record for the total dollar amount collected in civil penalty settlements, although the average amount per settlement decreased during the same period.
  • The CPSC is strengthening its relationship with state attorneys general (AGs). Under the CPSIA, state AGs were given explicit authority to pursue injunctive relief when needed to protect consumers from unsafe products.
  • The Commission is harnessing social media (YouTube, TwitterFlickr, and soon Facebook) to educate consumers and stakeholders about recalls and other safety information.

NEMA will continue to engage the CPSC, Congress, and other consumer product safety stakeholders on issues impacting electrical manufacturers. With all that is going on at the CPSC, there will certainly be no lack of opportunities to do so.

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