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

As bicycles become a go-to social distancing option for consumers, we turn our attention in this Recalls in Review segment to an associated (and also closely regulated) product—bicycle helmets.  The CPSC mandates that all bicycle helmets manufactured or imported since March 17, 1995 meet the standard set forth in 16 CFR Part 1203.1(c).  This mandatory standard covers bicycle helmets and multipurpose helmets that can be used when riding a bicycle.  The standard does not cover helmets marketed for exclusive use in another designated activity, such as baseball or skateboarding.  (16 CFR Part 1203.4(b)).

The Commission has conducted 26 bicycle helmet recalls, with the first occurring in 1995 and the latest just last week.  CPSC attention to helmets remains fairly steady over time, with at least one recall most years, and no significant enforcement “spikes” at any point.

Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Bicycle Helmets

On August 14, 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released final implementing regulations for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA became enforceable on July 1, 2020, and Becerra’s office submitted a final proposed draft of the regulations to the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on June 1, 2020. The Proposed Regulations have gone through several revisions since the publication of the initial draft in October of 2019. The OAL approved the final version along with an updated Addendum to the Final Statement of Reasons. The final implementing regulations take effect immediately. All businesses subject to the CCPA must now comply with both the statute and the regulations.

The final implementing regulations are similar to the draft proposed in June. However, the AG’s office has made several changes it characterizes as “non-substantive” and withdrawn certain proposed provisions “for additional consideration.” The “non-substantive” changes are intended to improve consistency in language (e.g., ensuring “consumer” is used throughout the regulations, or reorganizing definitions in alphabetical order) and are described in detail in the Addendum to the Final Statement of Reasons.

Continue Reading California Approves Final CCPA Regulations

As alluded to in last week’s post, Product Safety Regulations for Electric Bicycles and Scooters, micromobility products, such as e-bikes and scooters, fall at the intersection of jurisdiction between two distinct federal agencies: the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with “consumer products.”  “Consumer products” broadly defined includes any product for use in or around residences, schools and in recreation.  CPSC’s jurisdiction expressly excludes “motor vehicles.”[1]

NHTSA, which is charged with ensuring safety on public road ways, has jurisdiction over “motor vehicles.”  “Motor vehicles” are “vehicle[s] driven or drawn by mechanical power manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways, but does not include a vehicle operated only on a rail line.”[2]

There is no hard-and-fast rule as to what constitutes a “motor vehicle” subject to NHTSA’s jurisdiction.  Thus in determining whether a product is a “motor vehicle,” NHTSA typically considers such factors as:

  • the product’s intended use;
  • the product’s use of the public roadways and how incidental or predominant that use tends to be;
  • how the product is marketed;
  • the kinds of dealers that sell the product;
  • how or whether dealers may certify or register the product; and
  • the product’s speed.

Continue Reading 20 Miles Per Hour Divides NHTSA and CPSC Jurisdiction Over Micromobility Products

On Monday, more than a dozen states and major environmental and consumer organizations issued notices of intent (available here and here) to sue the Department of Energy (DOE) for alleged violations of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

As discussed in previous client alerts, DOE administers EPCA by setting mandatory appliance efficiency standards or conservation standards for over 60 covered products. Under the law, DOE is required to reexamine the standards for each product at least once every six years, and must update the standards for certain products by specific deadlines.

Continue Reading States and Major Environmental and Consumer Organizations Threaten to Sue the Department of Energy Over Alleged Delays in Issuing Energy Efficiency Standards

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

Certain products, like toilet paper and disinfectant, flew off of store shelves when the country began responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic. In recent months, new and used bicycles have become one of the next “must have” items as people look for socially distant activities and alternative modes of transportation.

The CPSC has regulated bicycles and their component parts since the 1970s. Just last month, the Commission published a Safety Alert regarding bicycle handle bars– warning consumers to inspect their bicycle handlebars for sharp, exposed metal ends, which can pose a serious impalement hazard. At least six impalement deaths and 2,000 emergency room visits between 2000 and 2019 are linked to bicycle handlebars, according to the alert. Plastic or rubber grips on the ends of bicycle handlebars can prevent those injuries and CPSC’s regulation requires handlebar ends to be capped or otherwise covered.

The CPSC has conducted 253 recalls of bicycles and bicycle parts since 2001.[1]

Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Bicycle and Bicycle Part Recalls

Rideshare bicycles and scooters have become increasingly ubiquitous in cities across the United States over the past few years.  While many rideshare bicycles are conventional, others feature pedal-assist technology and are commonly referred to as “electric bicycles” or “e-bikes.”  As for scooters, electric versions are offered to consumers by rapidly growing micromobility companies such as Lime and Bird.  Given the increasing popularity and expansion of these rideshare vehicles across the country, we provide a brief overview of the regulatory landscape that ensures the safety of these products.

Bicycles

In 1972, the Congress established the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to regulate the safety of consumer products at the federal level.  One of the first products to be regulated by the Commission was bicycles.  In 1978, the CPSC promulgated its first rules regulating traditional human powered bicycles (16 CFR part 1512) with the goal of establishing requirements for their assembly, braking, and structural integrity.  It was not until twenty-five years later, in 2003, that the Commission, pursuant to an act of Congress, updated the federal safety standard for bicycles to include low-speed electric bicycles.  Thus, electric bicycles, including most of those used for ridesharing purposes, are regulated by the CPSC and must comply with the mandatory federal safety standard for bicycles at 16 CFR part 1512.

Continue Reading Product Safety Regulations for Electric Bikes and Scooters

The new United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), became effective on July 1, 2020. Historically, free trade agreements like the NAFTA have been criticized for their lack of strong labor provisions to address low wages and inadequate labor standards that advocates argue support worker rights and improve economic growth in developing countries. The USMCA seeks to address those concerns. In fact, as a precondition to the passage of the USMCA, the U.S. Congress reopened the negotiations at the end of 2019 and amended the agreement to bolster Mexican workers’ rights and to include stronger enforcement provisions like the Rapid Response Mechanism to hold companies in Mexico accountable for violating the rights of free association and collective bargaining.

What is the Rapid Response Mechanism?

The Rapid Response Mechanism is perhaps the most novel aspect of the labor provisions of the USMCA. It applies between the U.S. and Mexico, and between Canada and Mexico, but not between the U.S. and Canada. Within the U.S., the Rapid Response Mechanism can be triggered when any person in the U.S. files a petition claiming the “denial of rights” at a “covered facility” in a “priority sector” in Mexico to the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (“Interagency Labor Committee”), co-chaired by the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor. The Interagency Labor Committee can request that Mexico conduct a review to determine whether there is indeed a denial of rights, or. If Mexico does not agree to conduct a review, the Interagency Labor Committee may request a panel to be convened to conduct its own verification under the USMCA.

Continue Reading Labor Provisions of the USMCA: What Multinational Employers Should Know

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

As we launch into the third quarter of 2020, we are taking a look at the trends from the CPSC’s recalls through the first half of the year.  The Commission has conducted 145 total recalls so far this year.  As is usually the case, the types of products recalled have varied widely, including ceiling fans, cleaning products, furniture, inclined sleepers, portable generators, pajamas, and strollers.  But some product categories have appeared multiple times, including: Dressers and Drawer Chests, Essential Oils, and Recreational Vehicles such as ATVs, UTVs, and Golf Carts.

In 2020 so far, Dressers, Drawer Chests, and Essential Oils have seen an increase in number of recalls as compared to recent years. Recreational Vehicles have historically been highly regulated, however, and the rate of recalls conducted in 2020 is comparatively similar to past years.

Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Recall Trends in 2020

Blockchain is a digital, decentralized, distributed ledger that provides a way for information to be recorded, shared and maintained by a community. Below we review the impact blockchain can have on increasing product safety, reducing recall expense, combatting counterfeits and otherwise assisting retailers in managing risk and protecting customers. By allowing for near real time, immutable tracking that is easily accessible to suppliers, manufacturers and government entities, blockchain technology has the capacity to revolutionize the retail industry.

Key features of the blockchain include:

  • Near real time – enables almost instant settlement of recorded transactions, removing friction and reducing risk.
  • Reliable and available – as multiple participants share a blockchain, it has no single point of failure and is resilient in the face of outages and attacks.
  • Transparent – transactions are visible to all participants, with identical copies maintained on multiple computer systems, increasing the ability to audit and trust the information held.
  • Irreversible – it is possible to make transactions irreversible, which can increase the accuracy of records and simplify back-office processes.
  • Immutable – it is nearly impossible to make changes to a blockchain without detection, increasing confidence in the information it carries and reducing the opportunities for fraud.

Helping Product Safety, Reducing Recall Costs and Protecting Brands Continue Reading Blockchain & the Retail Industry: Product Safety and Counterfeiting Use Cases

At 9:30 a.m. Central European Time, privacy professionals around the world were refreshing their browsers to read the long-awaited judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) principally addressing the viability of Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (Privacy Shield) as means to transfer personal data from the European Union (EU) to the United States (U.S.).

When the judgment arrived, it landed with a bang: though the CJEU upheld the use of SCCs, it invalidated the Privacy Shield, the well-known mechanism to transfer personal data from the EU to the U.S.  The decision also cast doubt on the viability of other options, including SCCs, for making transatlantic transfers.

The foundation of this decision and previous decisions affirming challenges to U.S. privacy practices is that the protection of personal data is a fundamental right in the EU, akin to a constitutional right in the U.S.  The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enshrined these fundamental rights and established uniform data protection standards across the EU designed to protect the personal data of EU-based individuals.

Continue Reading Privacy Shield Invalidated: EU Data Transfers to the U.S. under Siege (again…)