U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

The demand for consumer exercise equipment soared over the past year as Americans sought out ways to stay in shape while spending more time at home.  As more Americans create their own “home gyms” and purchase exercise equipment such as stationary

On Tuesday, March 30th Crowell & Moring’s Cheryl Falvey and Matthew Cohen will lead a webinar titled, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission – An Agency in Transition.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) is in a state of transition. The Democrats will soon have a majority of commissioners. Acting Chairman Bob Adler has announced

There have been recent calls for Congress to re-visit H.R. 2211, the “Stop Tip-overs of Un-stable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act” also known as the “STURDY Act.” Sponsored by Janice Schakowsky (Dem-IL 9th District), the bill was introduced in Congress last session and passed by the House on September 17, 2019 but never passed by the Senate. It would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) to promulgate a consumer product safety rule for free-standing clothing storage units to protect children from tip-over related death or injury.

As we indicated in our May 2020 analysis of dresser tip-overs, tip-overs have been a main focus for the CPSC and consumer advocacy groups in recent years. A CPSC report indicates that 571 people died from furniture tip-overs between 2000 and 2019, and 82% of those were children (ages ranged from 1 month to 14 years). A survey conducted by the CPSC showed that 41% of respondents did not anchor furniture in their homes.

Currently, there is no mandatory standard requiring manufacturers to test furniture to specific stability and safety standards. The current voluntary standard, ASTM F2057 – 19, is recognized by industry and the CPSC as required best practice in order to prevent tip-overs from dressers and other clothing storage units.
Continue Reading New Proposed Legislation to Prevent Furniture Tip-Over

This past Wednesday, Robert Adler, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), delivered a keynote address at the annual conference of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO).  In his final remarks to the conference as leader of the agency, Adler confirmed what many have suspected over recent

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

Extended time spent at home over the past year has encouraged many Americans to update, redecorate, and renovate their living spaces.  As more people choose to “DIY” their home renovations in lieu of hiring professional services, we turn our attention in

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a civil penalty settlement with exercise equipment manufacturer Cybex International (Cybex).  Cybex has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $7.95 million to resolve charges that it knowingly failed to immediately report allegedly defectiveto the CPSC under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act.  This civil penalty, already the second of 2021, underscores a material change in enforcement approach from the past two years, in which the Commission did not announce a single civil penalty for violations of the product safety laws.

In this case, CPSC staff alleged that Cybex failed to report immediately to the Commission that it had information which reasonably supported the conclusion that components of certain pieces of its gym equipment—arm curl and press machines—could detach or fall causing severe injury to the user, including eye loss, spinal fracture, and in one case paralysis.  The Commission voted 3-0-1 to provisionally accept the settlement. We encourage our readers to review the settlement agreement here to learn more about the factual background.
Continue Reading Cybex Civil Penalty at CPSC Confirms Return of Enforcement Tool

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

As winter temperatures continue to drop and we’re all looking for a way to feel cozy, many Americans reach for candles as a way to bring some light into their homes during these dark months.  We don’t need to detail why

A new nationwide standard for upholstered furniture flammability was signed into law on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which includes the COVID–19 Regulatory Relief And Work From Home Safety Act.  This legislation embraces the California Technical Bulletin (TB 117-2013) for testing the smolder resistance of materials used in upholstered furniture.  The California standard has been mandatory in that state since 2015, so the standard should already be on the compliance radar for most national retailers.

TB 117-2013 is intended to assess the flammability of upholstered furniture when exposed to a smoldering cigarette, a common cause of residential fires.  TB 117-2013 requires different tests for outer fabric, inner linings, and filling material that simulate a discarded, lit cigarette.  Each material is required to survive for an extended period without creating flames or overly smoldering or charring.  The previous version of the TB 117 standard also required an open flame test, which had been criticized for forcing manufacturers to use flame retardant chemicals.


Continue Reading New National Standard for Flammability of Upholstered Furniture

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

“Smart” homes and personal electronic devices are no longer a futuristic ideal.  Millions of internet-connected phones, TVs, wearable fitness trackers, home security devices, home appliances, and digital assistants are in use in the United States today.  The internet of things (“IoT”) is the use of network sensors in physical devices to allow for remote monitoring and control.  These devices have made great strides in making our lives more convenient.  But interconnectivity and data collection can also have serious security and privacy implications.

Despite the dramatic increase in the number of IoT products purchased by American consumers over the past few years, the law is slower in addressing any potential hazards posed by IoT technologies.  However, we expect to see more IoT product-related regulations enacted at the federal level over the next few years. We recently wrote about the new Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which was signed into law on December 4, 2020. The legislation charges the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) with drafting and finalizing security requirements for IoT devices.


Continue Reading Recalls in Review: IoT Products

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

If you have ever owned a laptop or hoverboard self-balancing scooter, you’ve likely seen numerous headlines about the lithium-ion batteries overheating, melting, or igniting.  We recently wrote about ways in which companies can mitigate risks and execute recalls related to lithium ion batteries.  In today’s installment of “Recall’s in Review,” we look back at CPSC regulatory actions involving lithium-ion batteries.

The batteries have become a highly regulated product over the last several years.  The Commission has conducted at least 64 recalls involving lithium-ion batteries since 2006.  The number of recalls rose substantially in 2016 and 2017, many of which were related to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries inside hoverboards and laptop computers.  The Commission took a more active role in warning consumers about the hazards posed by the batteries after two incidents of overheating lead to serious house fires in March and October of 2017.

Only one civil penalty relating to lithium-ion batteries has been issued by the Commission, in early 2012. The manufacturer was fined $425,000 for failure to timely report that certain lithium-ion battery packs could overheat.
Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Lithium-ion Batteries