CPSC Safety Academy Addresses Toy Standard; CPSC Public
September 24, 2012 | The Consumer Product Safety
Commission’s (CPSC) first-ever “Safety Academy” was
held on Thursday, September 20th, bringing together representatives from
a broad cross-section of the consumer product industries overseen by the
Commission. The outreach effort was launched to educate these diverse
stakeholders on various agency activities and to promote safety and best
practices throughout the supply chain.
In her opening remarks, CPSC chairman Inez Tenenbaum reiterated
several of the Commission’s key messages, including a reference
that product safety has to be addressed at the source and continued from
design, through manufacturing and into the supply chain.
Alongside Commissioners Nancy Nord, Anne Northup and Robert Adler,
the chairman urged audience participation during the discussions and
information updates on topics such as ‘compliance basics’;
mandatory testing, component parts testing, and certificates of
conformity; navigating the CPSC import process; and international topics
from representatives of safety agencies in Brazil, China and Canada.
Toy Industry Association (TIA) staff Al Kaufman, senior vice
president of technical affairs, and Joan Lawrence, vice president of
standards and government affairs – who also serves as chair of the
ASTM F963 toy standard subcommittee – spoke on a toy safety panel
moderated by Neal Cohen, CPSC small business ombudsman. The
discussion focused not only on the process for writing and editing the
standard, but also on how it is used in developing a testing plan for
toys. Joining the TIA staff as panelists were: Nancy Cowles from
Kids in Danger; Jonathan Midgett, a child psychologist at the CPSC; and
Pratik Ichhaporia from Intertek Consumer Goods.
Neal Cohen and the CPSC’s office of education, global outreach and
small business ombudsman, were identified as the agency’s key
point of contact for businesses looking for guidance on compliance with
applicable federal consumer product safety laws.
During a subsequent panel reviewing Section 6(b) of the Consumer
Product Safety Act (CPSA), which regulates the CPSC’s ability to
disclose information to the public, the Commission’s supervisory
general counsel announced a “minor change” that would alter
how the CPSC responds to media inquiries regarding pending product
safety investigations (whether investigations are initiated by the CPSC
or voluntarily by a company). Under current policy, the Commission
will always decline to comment on whether it is investigating a
particular company or product by name. The new interpretation of
the regulations would provide CPSC staff with the ability to respond to
media inquiries about an ongoing investigation. Critics say that
this practice could unnecessarily tarnish a company’s reputation
– particularly if the media reports on an investigation that does
not result in a corrective action – and that it could dissuade
companies from voluntarily sharing information with the CPSC.
A number of industry groups have questioned the change; additional
review is now underway. TIA will keep members apprised of
developments on this topic.