Greetings from Orlando, FL! The Crowell product safety team is currently attending the annual meeting and training symposium of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO). We just heard keynote remarks from the Chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Alexander Hoehn-Saric, and wish to share some highlights. As he did in October 2023 at the ICPHSO International Conference in Sweden, Chair Hoehn-Saric focused his remarks on addressing products sold on or through online marketplaces.

Chair Hoehn-Saric first set the stage by sharing some important data points. In 2023, the CPSC announced more than 300 product recalls; levied more than $52 million in civil penalties; engaged in 14 new mandatory safety standard rulemakings; screened more than 60,000 harmful products at the ports; and participated in numerous safety education campaigns. He also noted the budget uncertainty at the CPSC and the need to “do more with less” and stated that the CPSC will always “put consumers first” as they prioritize their work should the CPSC budget decrease.Continue Reading CPSC Chair Hoehn-Saric Addresses Annual Product Safety Conference  

On January 25, 2024, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), introduced the Consumer Advocacy and Protection (CAP) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 7096) and U.S. Senate (S 3667). The CAP Act aims to deter companies from committing safety violations by increasing CPSC’s penalty authority.

Under current law, manufacturers, importers, and distributors of consumer products are required to report immediately to the CPSC information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a product contains a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. If violations occur, the applicable civil penalty is a maximum of $100,000 per individual violation and $15,000,000 for a series of related violations. These amounts were adjusted for inflation in 2021, reaching $120,000 per violation and $17,150,000 for a series of related violations.Continue Reading New Bill Could Mean Higher Penalties for Failure to Report Safety Concerns

Enacted in 2022, Reese’s Law (P.L. 117-171) mandates federal safety requirements for button cell or coin batteries. This law mandates various requirements for button cell or coin batteries as well as consumer products that have or can use such batteries. The requirements range from performance to labeling and certification. Our team’s previous blog posts on Reese’s Law can be found here and here.Continue Reading CPSC to Hold January 2024 Webinar on Reese’s Law and Button Cell and Coin Battery Requirements

On Friday, CPSC Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric gave a keynote address to the International Symposium of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) in Almhult, Sweden. Hoehn-Saric focused his remarks on his stated goal for the third year of his term as chairman of the agency—addressing recalled or otherwise violative products sold on or through online marketplaces. In Hoehn-Saric’s view, consumers expect to purchase safe products on online marketplaces, and they should not need to know or discern whether a product is purchased directly from an online retailer or from an entity that has been provided access to consumers through the online platform. He complemented collaborative improvements by Amazon, eBay and Target but issued a call to action including adoption of “safety by design“ and legislative and regulatory protections.Continue Reading CPSC Chair Hoehn-Saric Focuses on Online Marketplaces at ICPHSO International Conference

On Thursday July 27, the CPSC will host a hybrid forum on lithium-ion battery safety, specifically focusing on fires in e-bikes and other micromobility products as well as the fire risks that may arise with the growing consumer market for other products containing such batteries.Continue Reading CPSC to Hold Forum on Lithium-Ion Battery Safety and Micromobility Products

On Wednesday afternoon, CPSC Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric addressed the annual conference of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) for the second time as chairman. In his remarks, Hoehn-Saric looked back on his first year as chairman, including the recent controversy over gas stoves, and shared some of the agency’s priorities moving forward. But the central theme of Hoehn-Saric’s remarks could not have been clearer— consumers are first in everything the agency does.  Continue Reading CPSC Chairman Addresses Gas Stoves and Other Issues at ICPHSO Conference

Here’s a brief review of key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from last month. We look forward to seeing many friends at the Annual Meeting and Training Symposium of ICPHSO in two weeks. For those who are unable to make the conference, our team plans to share daily insights so stay tuned for more important product safety updates!

Decisional Meeting on Clothing Storage Units Addresses “Tip-Over” Issue. On January 19, the CPSC adopted, by a 4-0 vote, staff’s recommendation to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Clothing Storage Units (CSUs) to address the “tip-over” issue. Notably, the Commission adopted two amendments to the proposed rule, both offered by Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr.

The first amendment pertained to the rule’s stockpiling provision. The rule presented by staff “prohibited manufacturers and importers of CSUs from manufacturing or importing CSUs that do not comply with the requirements of the proposed rule in any 12-month period between the date a rule is promulgated and the effective date of the rule at a rate that is greater than 120 percent of the rate at which they manufactured or imported CSUs during the base period for the manufacturer.” Trumka’s amendment defines the “base period” as one month out of the last 13 months with the median import or manufacture volume, and changes the percentage increase that is allowed under that base period from 120% to 105% in each month between the final rule and the effective date. It is intended to reduce the risk of stockpiling products. The Commission adopted the amendment by a vote of 4-0.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – January 2022

Happy New Year! We hope that our readers had a very enjoyable and safe holiday season. Here’s a brief review of key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from last month to help you stay aware of important product safety legislative and regulatory happenings.

CPSC Responds to Finnbinn’s Challenge on Infant Sleeper Rule. On December 17, the CPSC responded to Finnbinn’s challenge of its final rule applying the voluntary safety standard for inclined infant sleep products (ASTM F3118-17a) to all infant sleep products, including those that are “flat,” such as baby boxes and in-bed sleepers. In its responding brief, the CPSC asserts that Section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which requires the agency to study and develop safety standards for infant and toddler products, gives CPSC the authority to set such a standard, even where no existing voluntary safety standard exists. According to the CPSC, to decide otherwise would “allow inaction by a voluntary standard-setting organization to preclude action by the Commission.” The agency further argued that its rule was supported by sufficient evidence, citing 11 deaths and 16 injuries associated with flat sleep products over a two-year span, which it maintained was an undercount. The primary dangers of these products, according to the agency, are that they can fall when placed on other pieces of furniture, and that products without strength and stability requirements can lead to babies falling out of the sleepers. Of note, a trio of consumer advocacy groups filed an amicus brief urging the court to uphold the safety standard’s application to flat sleep products. We will continue to follow and report on this litigation.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – December 2021

Here’s a brief review of three key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from the past month or so to help you stay aware of important product safety legislative and regulatory happenings.

The CPSC Has a New Commissioner. On November 16, the United States Senate confirmed Richard Trumka Jr. to a seven-year term on the Commission by voice vote. Mr. Trumka Jr. will replace long-time Commissioner Robert Adler whose term expired last month. Importantly, with Mr. Trumka Jr.’s confirmation, the Commission will remain comprised of two Democratic (Hoehn-Saric and Trumka Jr.) and two Republican (Baiocco and Feldman) Commissioners. The Democrats will not have a majority on the Commission until current Biden nominee (and CPSC Executive Director) Mary Boyle is confirmed by the Senate—and the status of that nomination remains unclear. Ms. Boyle’s nomination is not on the Senate Commerce Committee’s “Nominations Hearing” agenda for December 1. You can read more about Mr. Trumka Jr.’s confirmation in our prior post about his confirmation.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – November 2021

Here’s a brief review of key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from the past month to help you stay aware of important product safety legislative and regulatory happenings.

Gree Appliance Companies Plead Guilty to Felony Charge for Failure to Report; Indicted Executives Await Trial.  In one of the most significant developments in product safety law over the past decade, Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of China, Hong Kong Gree Electric Appliances Sales Co. Ltd., and Gree USA Inc. (the “Gree Companies”), a global appliance manufacturer, have pleaded guilty to willfully failing to report to the CPSC under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act.  According to the DOJ and CPSC, the Gree Companies knew their dehumidifiers were defective, failed to meet applicable safety standards, and could catch fire, but failed to report that information to the CPSC for months.  Section 19 of the CPSA makes it unlawful to fail to furnish information required by Section 15(b), and that failure is subject to civil and criminal penalties.  While CPSC civil penalties (or at least investigations) have become fairly routine—indeed, the Gree Companies paid a then-record $15.45 million civil penalty in 2016—this is the first corporate criminal enforcement action brought under the CPSA by the GovernmentAs part of the Gree Companies’ plea agreement, they will pay a $91 million penalty.  Two Gree executives have been charged criminally by the DOJ as well, and await trial, scheduled for March 2022.  Stay tuned for a full analysis from the Crowell product safety team.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – October 2021