CPSC Workshop Day 1

As many of you know, I was to represent RDIA this week in Washington, DC, at the CPSIA workshop on compliance, sampling, testing, challenges, and impact.

Unfortunately, a series of family medical emergencies kept me from traveling at the last minute. The good news is Dan Marshall was already planning to be in attendance representing the Handmade Toy Alliance, and he agreed to represent RDIA in my absence. Dan is an RDIA retailer member with Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care.

CPSC Workshop on CPSIA

The workshops are broadcast via webcast live throughout the day. Today’s series begins at 9:30am Eastern and runs through 4:30pm. You can view the webcast at cpsc.gov

Thursday, December 10, 2009 Workshop Summary

Attendees were welcomed by Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Inez Moore Tenenbaum and reminded that comments are open until January 11, 2010.

CPSIA Review.

The specifications of CPSIA were reviewed and everyone was reminded that this IS currently the law and compliance is required. A slide show illustrated several types of products which fall within the law and why.

Hazard Reduction.

Differentiations between Reasonable Testing Program and Third-party Testing were clarified and questions posed. General Certificates of Conformity ARE required, and the methods one uses to obtain them vary based of product type, source considerations and more. There will be continued discussion on Third-party Testing and all that in encompasses. (Discussion points: manufacturer’s judgment, historic risk.)

Component Testing.

Component Testing is that testing done when the rest of the product is not needed in the overall determining of compliance. This was a fresh perspective on an old term. It isn’t a new definition, but looking at it this way illuminates different aspects of the law. From all that is being said, Component Testing will “quite likely happen” although to what extent is certainly yet to be determined. (Discussion points: What kind of systems should be in place for suppliers? Who fits the definition of supplier? Where does the ultimate responsibility fall?)

Random Sampling.

Participants discussed random sampling for several hours. There are statistical methods in place which afford a “true random” sample. Such sampling is a business best practice regardless, but making sure those samples are statistically random increases effectiveness of the entire testing process and reduces the impact of “estimates.” (Discussion points: is sampling to be done per lot, production run, day, or month? To what extent can a manufacturer introduce their own responsibility when devising a sampling plan? Is a practical approach enough?)

Cost of Testing.

This section was disturbing in regards to the range considered to be acceptable. Single product testing for lead was quoted as varying from $20 to $100+ with the lower end being testing done in China. Clearly, sending single items to China for testing is neither feasible nor at all desirable for so many small cloth diaper manufacturers. I think we need to be clear about our own testing costs then make sure we tell the CPSC what these costs are.

Design Element vs Manufacturing Error.

An interesting statistic that 2/3 of all products considered unsafe (unsure of reference) were found to be unsafe at the design NOT at manufacture. Toys are legally subject to design safety testing. Implications here could be far reaching and provide some food for thought.

Be sure to tune in for the Day 2 summary to hear about Dan Marshall holding up a pink diaper cover and ask for a full product exemption.