U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Could the end of Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) actually be near?  Time will tell.  But last week’s development on Capitol Hill in the saga of “Section 6(b)” is noteworthy, and, one day in the not-so-distant future, may be recognized as the beginning of the end for this controversial provision of the law.

On April 22, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced legislation—the Sunshine in Product Safety Act—to fully repeal Section 6(b) of the CPSA.  This is the first time in recent memory that Members of Congress have introduced legislation to do away with Section 6(b) altogether.  For example, in the last Congress, Representative Rush introduced the “SHARE Act,” which sought primarily to scale back one of Section 6(b)’s most important protections for firms—allowing a company to judicially challenge the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (“CPSC” or “the Commission”) decision to release information about a firm, or one of its products, prior to its disclosure.  But that legislation left the rest of Section 6(b)’s procedures and protections intact.  This current bill, therefore, is much more ambitious, and stakeholders should take note.

By way of background, Section 6(b) requires the CPSC to engage in certain procedural steps before publicly disclosing information from which the identity of a manufacturer of a product can be readily ascertained.  Those include taking reasonable steps to ensure that the information to be disclosed publicly is fair, accurate, and reasonable related to effectuating the purpose of the product safety laws.  Practically speaking, this means notifying the manufacturer of the potential disclosure, providing either a summary of what the agency intends to disclose, or the actual disclosure itself, and providing the company with the opportunity to comment, typically 15 days, though that time period can be shortened by the CPSC with a “public health and safety finding.”  Other regulators, like FDA and NHTSA, do not have similar statutory constraints on the release of product information nor do they have due process protections around data release, whether those be adverse events or vehicle accidents.
Continue Reading New Bills Seek to Repeal Controversial Provision of Product Safety Act

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to promulgate a Direct Final Rule clarifying deadlines for the new nationwide standard for upholstered furniture flammability.  The new rule codifies the effective dates for compliance with the new national flammability standard (which incorporated California’s flammability testing standard already in effect) and allows for affected parties to comment if they are significantly adversely affected by the new rule.

Continue Reading CPSC Rulemaking Clarifies June 25, 2021 Deadline to Comply with Furniture Flammability Standard, Extends Labeling Requirement Deadline Until 2022

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