The forum has been buzzing fast and furious in response to the CPSIA Requirements Alex wrote about in New Product Safety Regulations That Affect ALL Manufacturers. I am waiting to hear back from a few off site authorities who may help provide some insight. Below appears the list I’ve prepared for inquiries and you are welcome to post this entry in its entirety elsewhere on the web provided you link to the source. Obviously it cannot be comprehensive but it’s what I’ve come up with based on the 100 +/- comments posted to the two threads in the member’s forum. By all means add to it.
The overarching concerns are:
- What are we required to do -and when? (sewn product producers)
- What are we required to do -and when? (Retail)
- Definitions and time lines
- Enforcement and standardization
- Infrastructure of testing facilities
- Stifling innovation
- What can we do (activism/comment)?
- What are we required to do -and when? (sewn product producers):
- Confusion reigns over whether assay of inputs or final products is required.
- How about acquiring certifications from upstream suppliers? If one cannot be absolved of liability by accepting documentation from an upstream supplier, it’d be a huge expense and duplication of effort on the supply chain.
- What are we required to do -and when? (Retail):
- As the last stop in the process, what is their responsibility for collecting certification on goods they receive?
- Are they absolved of liability if certifications are not genuine?
- Is retail being forced to assume the responsibility of policing the whole process?
- What if they get goods without documentation? Do they ship it back and risk incurring wrath from their suppliers over charge backs needed to cover the costs?
- What if this happens to all or most of their goods and their shelves go empty while everyone scrambles to come into compliance?
- Definitions and timelines -Among the myriad of complaints regarding the lack of comprehensive guidelines are these:
- How is the date of manufacture determined? Is it considered to be manufactured when it comes off the sewing machine, when it goes into the shipping container, when it hits the dock in the US, or when one takes receipt of the goods?
- Will items in the pipeline be permitted? If not, the losses could be devastating considering the time line of upstream sourcing of fabric and inputs.
- Enforcement and standardization:
- The certificate is not considered part of the entry documentation and therefore, not needed to be presented at entry. However, it does need to be included in the shipment meaning it must be present. This is beyond confusing.
- What if enforcement agents don’t like the way the forms are done (lack of standardization) so the lot is impounded into a bonded warehouse? Is one permitted to pull samples out to get them re-tested? Currently, pulling goods out is not permitted.
- Costs disproportionately impact small businesses and can put them out of business at a time when the economy is least able to absorb it. Solicited quotes for services range in price from $450-$982 per colorway of each style meaning a style with three colorways can cost $3,000 (I use the higher figure for reasons #6 and #7 below). For a small line with only ten styles, this can mean $30,000 -more than the total cost of production or inputs.
- Worse (other than price increases to consumers) overhead is affected as testing must be done pre-market meaning one is spending money for compliance costs on styles that may be dropped. Yet you can’t pre-sell something if you don’t know it’ll pass. This should prove the need of assays of inputs (#1) over finished product testing but this remains unclear.
- The logistics required are of greater complexity, straining those with less sophisticated sourcing management systems. One must collect input samples from international suppliers which must then be sent to labs for testing prior to purchasing. How much time will the logistics of testing add to the product development cycle (aka “speed to market”) considering the myriad of details to be collected?
- Infrastructure of testing facilities:
- Has anyone done an analysis of test lab capacity?
- Are there enough to manage the new caseload?
- How long will product development and scheduling be delayed?
- Considering the dramatic increase in the demand for testing services, one can only imagine costs will dramatically increase until more labs get into the business.
- Stifling innovation:
- Due to logistics, lack of readily available compliance certifications from international suppliers, it is very likely producers will have yet another encumbrance, limiting the range of styles they develop. Style development will centralize to reflect only those goods which are readily procured and established to be within compliance.
- What can we do (activism/comment)?
- HELP! Tell us who to write or talk to and what to say and we’ll do it.
Related in the forum:
The War Room: CPSIA & Consumer Safety. This is a very active section with nearly 60 different threads and over 1,000 postings. Open to the public.