Here at MassTortDefense we have posted before about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and how it might impact manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers. Congressman John Dingell, D-Mich., sent a March 2, 2009, letter to the commission posing specific questions about the ongoing implementation of the CPSIA.

Commissioner Moore responded, noting, first, that the agency did not get the immediate increase in funding that the Act envisioned. Second, the agency still has only two Commissioners (no chairman). Third, the letter noted that additional time to implement certain of the Act’s provisions would have been preferable.

Acting Chairman Nord provided a longer, 20 page response from the agency staff, echoing requests for additional time, and resources. [Note, the Act required product manufacturers and importers subject to a consumer product safety standard or rule to certify in writing that the product conforms to all applicable standards or rules; children’s products must be tested by a third-party, accredited testing laboratory. The agency became backlogged with laboratories’ requests for accreditation. And thus a stay of a number of the Act’s provisions has been imposed. Of course, the stay of the testing and certification requirements does not alter the requirements that all products must meet the underlying safety standard.] The staff letter asks Congress to eliminate the fixed time-table, and give the commission the discretion to address certification and testing on a product-class basis.

A focus of the staff response is that the commission staff feels it needs more discretion to effectively implement the CPSIA and uphold its general purpose. The argument is that the strict CPSIA deadlines and standards deprive the commission of the ability to effectively use risk analysis in establishing priorities and resource allocation. The commission staff concludes that this factor, along with the limited resources point above, has prevented it from taking important measures with respect to other product safety rules, such as improving children’s health and safety.

For example, the commission staff views the definition of “children’s product” as over-inclusive for the CPSIA’s goals, considering that the risk of mouthing and ingestion decreases with age. The commission suggests lowering the age limit and giving the commission the discretion to set higher age limits for products that pose a greater risk to older children.