11 Days from Today
US Manufacturers, Importers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ; charged with the development, deployment and enforcement of the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA); have a critical date coming up on Feb 10, 2009.
This is the day that the CPSIA; legislation passed unanimously by Congress in 2008 and signed into law by President Bush on August 14, 2008; has scheduled as the day that children’s products are banned from US Consumer Markets if they contain over 600 ppm (parts per million by weight) of lead (Pb) or one of any of several substances known as phthalates.
Whether pacifier, bottle, toy, carpet, furniture or personal clothing - no child’s possession that can come into contact with a child of 12 years or younger will be exempt from the requirement to now disclose how much, if any, lead (or phthalates) is contained within the products a manufacturer produces for sale in the US.
The CPSC has defined the mechanism for that disclosure as a new “document” called a General Certification of Conformity or GCC (also referred to as a CoC or Certificate of Compliance or Conformity, in some circles). Many industries have “compliance certificates” or programs, both mandatory and voluntary, that require these types of documents.To keep conversations aligned with CPSC verbiage, we’ll continue to refer to this document as a GCC (General Conformity Certificate).
Disclosure comes at a price for manufacturers – they are required not only to test their goods – they are now ALSO required to make that information available to their trade customers within very strict guidelines with severe penalties for non-compliance.
All components of a finished good must be tested and test information along with, dates of manufacture, location of manufacture and all contact data of the original manufacture of the finished goods and test facility must be available,to all of their trade customers, prior to products being shipped into their hands to then be introduced into US consumer markets.
Agencies; such as US Customs (if products are imported); and any agent of the CPSC or enforcer of the CPSIA (which now would include extended governance by any state’s attorney general’s office) can demand access to a GCC, specific to any shipment of finished goods*.
The benefits for the consumer and the environment are undoubtedly worth the investment for the manufacturer to be a leader in their chosen market. Producing products that meet or exceed the expectations of the “new global economy” and trends to specify green, renewable, recyclable, re-usable products for use in schools and other municipal settings, such as parks, is a value position worth leveraging. What better way to “toot your horn” and do a bit of shameless, self-promoting then to adopt a program of high standards, that helps distinguish your company as a global citizen and “good shepherd” of high ideals.
Reduction in the US consumer’s exposure to heavy metals, as well, is a move in the right direction according to US Congress, the vast majority of their constituents, the EPA, CDC, OSHA, CPSC, pediatricians, health and safety professionals, environmental watch-dog groups and a whole host of others – and oh, 100% of the Congress and all the bill’s authors and endorsers; including our past and current Presidents.
Domestic manufacturers and US Importers are compelled to comply, as stated in the final rule published in the Federal Register by the CPSC, early in December, 2008. That same ruling determined that “private labelers” of products that are manufactured domestically or that are imported were not required to provide proof, however, could, if they published their own general conformity certificate (GCC), though testing could be referred to any lab source which, in essence, means that a private labeler can co-publish a GCC with their supplier’s tests.
The key to the value proposition for the market of the use of a general conformity certificate is that it is based upon the SHIPMENT of products – not the specification of a “product line”, even by specific part number, as a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) would be. The disclosure of banned, restricted, regulated materials, or substances that must meet specific standards can be shown to indeed comply with the issue of a GCC – penalties are significant enough for consumers to be able to see how important compliance will be for any manufacturer. Register to download a PDF of How You Can Use the GCC as A Tool.
* The breath of disclosure is all encompassing – any act, rule, standard, ban or regulation that is enforced by the CPSC also “kicks” in on Feburary 10, 2009.
Each SHIPMENT of either a children’s product or a consumer product that falls under the ruling must have a GENERAL CONFORMITY CERTIFICATE (GCC or CoC) issued after Feb 10, 2009. In the “final rule” published by the CPSC, they stated that acceptable methods of delivering access to such a document need not be “physical” or “attached” to the shipment as long as the GCC would be accessible; and that could be accessible ONLINE, digitally. The fundamental requirement is that this general certification of conformity, test data and contact information was accessible to US Customs, the CPSC and any of the manufacturer’s trade customers; the distributor, retailer, builder; BEFORE PRODUCTS REACHED US CONSUMER MARKETS.
Children’s product requirements for GCC are much more demanding than those for consumer products – though to distinguish a consumer product from what a childrens product may be defined as might take the efforts of a professional product liability attorney to determine.
The CPSC, in both the CPSIA, amended CPSA and FHSA, has clearly defined a “childrens product” and general language states that any product that has been developed for sale and is marketed to children under the age of 12 will be characterized as a children’s product and, therefore, must meet more stringent standards then that of “consumer products”, in general.
Mandatory verses voluntary standards – specific products and industries have had mandatory standards, bans, rules and regulations to comply with for years.
Other industries have only recently come under great scrutiny and are only now being mandated to comply with new regulations – industries such as toys and children’s room furniture are experiencing major shifts in what was a simple system a few years ago and must now extend their efforts to include more extensive testing and disclosure than ever before.
Why is a GCC something a manufacturer would VOLUNTARILY invest in, if they were not compelled to do so? The deployment of a GCC program voluntarily is smart business, especially these days. The fact that a voluntary standard could be used to judge the quality of your finished goods in a product liability case is cause enough to look into any existing or pending voluntary standards that are relevant to your product lines. Your trade association or business exchange may have information if you cannot locate it easily on the internet.
For the artificial turf and synthetic grass industry, the CPSC would look to the ASTM to provide voluntary standards. With the heavy emphasis on what, if any, lead (Pb) might be contained within new or older artificial turf systems, the CPSC asked the ASTM to address the obvious need to develop and publish a standard for the total lead content of artificial turf grass fibers. Though this process would normally take years to process through the various procedural steps ASTM takes prior to publishing a new standard, for the second time in it’s 102 year history, ASTM is poised to publish a new standard in little more than a year. Rumored to be on the final steps of peer review, the new ASTM standards will define total lead content in any synthetic turf or artificial grass fiber and a specific test to measure total lead content; widening the scope of all other ASTM standards which only focus on the use of synthetic grass and artificial turf in playgrounds and sports-related activity projects.
For an in depth look at the CPSIA, the new voluntary standards from ASTM and how it might relate to the artificial turf and synthetic grass industry - take a few moments, register and watch our “Flash” presentation - the CPSIA & the Artificial Turf Market (Jan 2009).
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