CPSIA updates 11/10/2009

Late last week, the CPSC released a draft for testing and certification requirements (pdf) under CPSIA. While the developments spelled out therein look promising, be advised this is a draft, not a formal ruling. If you’d care to lend your support to the proposal (recommended), public comments are due by January 11, 2010. Be advised the CPSC is no longer accepting comments via email directly. Instructions for submission appear on page 27 of the pdf. Here are the highlights of this most recent release from the CPSC:

Supplier provided documentation on components
This is the biggie we’d all been hoping for. It seems likely that we will be permitted to use third party testing documentation from our suppliers provided they’ve used a CPSC sanctioned lab. This is advantageous in two respects.

  1. If one’s component parts are either exempt (most fabrics are) or verified to meet CPSIA standards, the more stringent destructive unit testing won’t be required to prove compliance.
  2. You won’t have to pay (directly) for component testing of buttons, grommets and the like. Indirectly you’ll pay since you and every other children’s product producer will need to source inputs from suppliers who can provide the documentation for the GCC and it’s likely those will cost a bit more. And yes, you’ll still need the GCC to document your compliance with this modified “reasonable testing program”.

More details on the above can be found on page 10 of the document (page 12 of the pdf).

Some CPSIA activists are saying we need an additional year’s stay of enforcement because they claim it will take years for component suppliers to perform these tests but most suppliers are already required to do them by their insurers and larger customers. I think the bigger problem will be getting the existing documentation into the hands of those who need it.

Standards relaxed for small companies
Building on the previous statement of policy (and the above), third party party testing on one of a kind items will not be required (pg 13 pdf). The CPSC recognizes that these may not be wholly unique items in that they share component parts with other items the producer makes. A useful FAQ that will answer most of your questions (part IV) starts at the bottom of page 11 (page 13 of the pdf).

Periodic testing quantified
One item given short shrift on this site was the matter of “periodic sampling” (my previous entry on sampling was written in the event it was later needed) because it seemed too overwhelming on top of everything else. Basically, in addition to all the other testing being required, one was required to do additional periodic testing as a sort of overall compliance check. This document spells this out more clearly, limiting periodic sample testing to 10,000 units. Do note it’s a unit standard, not a calender one. If you’re making the same thing over and over yearly, it might not be until year two or three that you need to comply with this requirement based on the number of units produced.

Contractors & Compliance
This is something everyone asks me, copying verbatim from the document:

Q. I am an importer of children’s products made abroad. I plan to rely on third party tests conducted by my overseas manufacturer. Can the overseas manufacturer certify the product for me?
A. No. Under current regulations, the overseas manufacturer cannot certify the product for the importer. The overseas manufacturer can arrange for the third-party testing by a CPSC-recognized third-party conformity assessment body and supply those tests results to you so you can certify the product.

Not only can an importer not certify your products for you, neither can a domestic contractor. A domestic contractor can only work with the inputs you provide and for which you are responsible. With the goal of maintaining product integrity (avoiding the problem of item substitutions), I suggest reviewing Quality Control and SOW parts one and two. In the event you are lucky enough to find a contractor who claims to provide compliant products as part of a full package service, be advise you are still the manufacturer of record and the party of responsibility. The CPSC isn’t going to go after your contractor but you. That the contractor failed to meet the criteria they promised to you is a separate and personal business matter.

The above Q & A is not to be confused with whether you are permitted to use an offshore supplier’s component level testing results from a CPSC recognized third-party testing facility because you can. You’d use the third party testing results they supply to you to certify your products and issue the GCC.

CPSIA testing workshop
The CPSC is hosting a testing workshop December 10-11, 2009 in Bethesda MD. Registration is required to attend. The session will be available by webcast for which you don’t need to register. More information is available at that link. All previous webcasts are available online.

Related:
If you need more background on this topic, see the list of all CPSIA related entries to appear on this site. There’s also a freely accessible section in the forum.

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