Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

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.


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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

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.


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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

You’ve just received news that a consumer’s experience with your product did not go as expected. They’ve called, e-mailed, left a review, or even sent a tweet about a negative experience. As you address the consumer’s concerns, it is important to recognize if any reportable safety issues have been raised. If so, there is certain

  • Is an escalator in a shopping mall a consumer product? The Consumer Product Safety Commission thinks so; here’s their recommendation on escalator safety and the use of soft soled shoes.
  • Does the CPSC regulate the Internet of Things? To the extent networked products present safety risks, you bet they do. CPSC Commissioner Kaye has issued

As more organizations incorporate technology in newfound ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness, government agencies have done the same. Take, for instance, the CPSC’s new recall app, which makes recall information more accessible to consumers on their mobile devices. Now government agencies are looking towards companies to apply the latest technologies to protecting consumer