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You do NOT want a small business exemption
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Alison Cummins
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:40 pm    Post subject: normal use and abuse Reply with quote

I think the term is “normal use and abuse.” Meaning the normal way for a baby carrier to be used is to carry a baby in it, and it should be safe that way; and a normal way for a baby carrier to be abused is for a baby to sit on it and gum the straps — and it should be safe that way too.

It’s really not helpful to think that parents should assume that all babycare items are dangerous/hazardous/poisonous and should be kept away from children at all times. That just isn’t real life. Personally, I would want my baby carriers to be non-toxic and not pose a small parts choking hazard. And that isn’t just me.

Back to the specific discussion of educational materials, microscopes have been mentioned because there’s a drop of solder in the internal mechanism. Normal use might be hyper eight-year olds learning how to look at slides. Normal abuse would be hyper twelve-year olds trying to see if they can take them apart, or kids of any age dropping them on the floor. If a microscope can poison children under these circumstances, it’s probably not suitable for use by kids.

Abnormal abuse might be something like cutting it up in the metal shop, or dropping it on pedestrians from the roof of an apartment building. Those activities are risky enough in themselves that exposing solder would be the least of one’s worries.

Even a lead-free microscope could be dangerous to younger children under conditions of normal use and abuse (bonk them on the head; cut their tongues) and all children could be dangerous to it (drop it on the floor; smuggle it into the metal shop). So as you correctly observe, there is a normal expectation that it be used under the supervision of adults. But I think a normal adult would hope that if it does get dropped on the floor, that there won’t be glass shards and lead solder dust spraying everything in a four-foot radius, endangering anyone young enough to put things in their mouth or even curious enough to crawl under the table to inspect the damage.
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Eric H
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The drop of lead solder in question is found at the base of the lamp which may be easy to get to. I question whether any child of the age at which they have access to those is going to keep that in his/her mouth long enough to do any damage. The problem was not that this was likely, but rather that the cost of testing was going to drive the $0.10 lamp to astronomical heights. Clearly, the school is never going to buy the $400 lamp (because let's face it, once they tested it, nobody was ever going to pay $1 or $5 or $10 or $50 or $100 for the first one or first 20), they are going to buy one for $0.10 from an adult microscope sales company and ignore the law. Because they can: they aren't selling the lamp, they're buying it.
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Alison Cummins
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric,

Right, and there are all kinds of discussions about what’s reasonable, effective, context, etc. etc. etc. Though I do not share your trust in pre-teens not to eat preposterous things as a challenge, I happen to think that the discussion of something used under adult supervision is interesting. Then the question of liability comes in: if a sixth-grader with ADD and poor impulse control eats lead for shits and giggles, is the poor teacher then liable?

Many surprisingly young people can be taught to use tools and materials with care and respect, but kids mature at different rates. A lot of kids have a really hard time grasping consequences. Announcing that “kids should know better” or “I knew better at that age” or “the parents should have known better” or “normal abuse should not exist” might or might not be true, but there is more to agreeing on sensible ground rules and allocating responsibility than “should.”

These issues are genuinely difficult (and interesting); CPSIA is a genuinely bad law. To make headway against the law requires sensitivity towards consumer and policymaker concerns, not denial of them.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:25 pm    Post subject: safe car but what about the car cover? Reply with quote

miracle wrote:
But here's what you have to understand:

When a law is enacted to improve safety for children, it has to be absolute. That would be like saying if you drive a safe car, then car seats are not mandatory. Safety laws usually don't work on the basis of exemption
The reason I posted this thread is because it is highly unlikely to get an exemption for small businesses. If ONE child gets harmed under an exemption, the legislature would be blamed for that amendment.

While I understand the plight, I don't think it's a reasonable request, therefore we must look for ways to work within the confines of a law that applies to all.

Also, there is this huge misconception that only large companies have problematic products (because that is what hits the news) and that just is not true.

So we have to come up with a solution that works FOR you, because getting exemption is unlikely, and US fighting for it makes it seem like we don't think that we should comply.


Shocked this law also includes the garment industry. can you tell me a child or infant could be harmed by an organic cotton t shirt, not dyed without any fasteners and made in the usa? it is not just about the toy industry. i believe companies should have an exemption based upon what they are producing and not be penalized for their customer demographic.
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Alison Cummins
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous guest,

That's not an exemption for a small business based on its size; that's an exemption for a product based on the fact that it's extremely unlikely to contain lead. The NAM petition requests exactly that.

What Miracle is saying is that it's not reasonable or helpful to ask a safety commission to agree that it's ok for small businesses to make dangerous products. (And while some small businesses may make undyed organic cotton t-shirts without fasteners or embellishments, most small businesses make other things, and some of these other things could, in fact or theory, be dangerous.)
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J C Sprowls



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And the reason it's not helpful is because it creates the wrong impression, that so-called "experts" will run with and give an even worse face/name.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

" it seems like the handcraft industry really only wants a way out. Not so much reasonable compliance."

I'm really trying hard to wrap my head around this - even though I have no real dog in the fight (so to speak).

I think it is perfectly acceptable for the handcrafted industry to protest. The whole point of handcrafting is to be different from mass produced items.

I don't think it's a matter of wanting to "get away" with anything ... or trying to get away with making dangerous items. At least that is not how I see it.

I'm a consumer. I want to have a choice and this law takes that choice and cuts it down significantly. I love supporting independent small businesses and handcrafters. I make jewelry and appreciate those who support me. When I have a baby I want the option to purchase handcrafted blankets, clothing, and toys.

This law is horrible - total overreach and nanny state intrusion. I hope that NAM (I am going to go read their proposal) and HTA can work together to help the legislators / regulators understand the issues. Because they clearly came up with this law without thinking through the consequences.

Anyway...I apologize for not being so knowledgeable on the issue. I'm frustrated from the consumer end.

And I heard about the issue from Etsy and the handcrafted community - so I was very surprised to read the negativity here and on other boards in regards to them. Sad

I do want to understand better and now that I've found this forum I will read more. I hope that a solution can be found that will make everyone happy - or at least compliant. Smile

Megan C
http://www.castocreationsjewelry.blogspot.com
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I first started this thread it was because all the requests for size-based exemptions were (and are) weakening the cause. It draws criticism because it asks to escape accountability. Furthermore, pointing the finger at big companies and imports is not only alienating from the people who have the loudest voices to fight with (and the money to do it) but it also ignores the reality that unsate products come from crafters too.

From the go had the handmade/craft industry started off looking for reasonable compliance it would have been a battle supported by the rest of industry. Since that didn't happen now (my belief is) the handcraft industry will get the short end of the stick because people didn't build alliances.

I believe in solidarity.

As such I think the very habit of asking for an out is going to keep it from happening. Not only is the rest if industry not supporting it, but consumers are responding as though this is a request to put kids at risk to provide a business with profit. They don't care the companies are small. They care about their kids.

That is my opinion on the matter and it's not negative at all, just pointing out unintended consequences.

Please excuse the typos I'm using a phone!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But anyhow, I don't even know that this law can be passed in a way that makes the OOAK/Handcraft industry happy, because it seems like the handcraft industry really only wants a way out. Not so much reasonable compliance.

I think you are correct in that we are not going to achieve solidarity as long as this attitude prevails. Someone else even suggested that the only difference between handcrafters and mass producers (large and small) is "professionalism."

The fact is, the concerns of handcrafters are not less valid just because we are individuals instead of "real" businesses. I assure you that I regard my business very seriously. For 20 years, I have made one-of-a-kind baby quilts and garments. I am not interested in mass production; it's not what I do. I have a niche market that suits me. I may not seem very important in the sweeping approach to "solidarity," but it's very sad that the probable loss of my 20-year business is regarded with indifference under that banner.

This isn't just an issue for existing producers - it's an issue for individuals seeking opportunity from humble beginnings. The harder we make it for people to start small and (if they choose) grow big, the more control will be given to the larger existing companies whose "loud voices" certainly won't be speaking for the small-but-growing competition.

I don't know that "size" exemptions are the answer, but if you want solidarity, it would be good to recognize the worth of everyone involved in this situation - including individuals who are not mass-producing.
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Alison Cummins
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cathe,

I think you misread the posts. People have said, over and over again, that size and professionalism are NOT RELATED.
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annika
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:58 pm    Post subject: Re: normal use and abuse Reply with quote

Alison Cummins wrote:
I think the term is “normal use and abuse.” Meaning the normal way for a baby carrier to be used is to carry a baby in it, and it should be safe that way; and a normal way for a baby carrier to be abused is for a baby to sit on it and gum the straps — and it should be safe that way too.

It’s really not helpful to think that parents should assume that all babycare items are dangerous/hazardous/poisonous and should be kept away from children at all times. That just isn’t real life. Personally, I would want my baby carriers to be non-toxic and not pose a small parts choking hazard. And that isn’t just me.


I agree that we should assume that babies will gum the straps, they do it all the time. And I agree that we all want nontoxic baby carriers. However, I do disagree that parents' have no responsibility to keep certain items from children that they do use with their children when they are not in use. There are items, like carriers, that are intended to help the parent do something with the child that the child shouldn't be manipulating unsupervised.

As for the inaccessibility issue, I can honestly see it going both ways. Either the part is completely unable to be touched or else it gets tested. That is ok with me, but I think there is also a valid argument in saying that when this product is used for its intended purpose, certain parts are not even in contact with the child.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
" it seems like the handcraft industry really only wants a way out. Not so much reasonable compliance."

I'm really trying hard to wrap my head around this - even though I have no real dog in the fight (so to speak).

I think it is perfectly acceptable for the handcrafted industry to protest. The whole point of handcrafting is to be different from mass produced items.


I have to admit, as someone who buys (and makes, although I do not sell) handmade items, I at first thought they should be exempted too. But I quickly realized that it's not the answer at all -- everything needs to be held to the same level of safety (and after having read Jennifer Taggart's post about her XRF results I think there is in fact a lot more lead out there in children's products than any of us realize!).

Not only do I want the things I buy to really be safe*, I want to be sure the things I make are safe. An exemption is the wrong answer. Allowing handmade goods to be made of certified materials could work; allowing XRF testing of handmade goods; there are surely more possible answers.

I love the handcrafted industry and want to support it, but I don't think asking for an exemption from this law is acceptable at all. And I don't think it will ever be granted, even if it was okay. I have to agree with everything miracle posted before -- and I think it's the handcrafter's groups that have rejected solidarity, not the other way around.

*I have to be truthful and admit I don't think this law actually makes things safer; the amount of lead in chidlren's products is nothing compared to what's in, say, the dirt in playgrounds. And unless they start searching containers at ports more, the cheap lead trinkets will still be all over the dollar stores and bodegas. But, the law is the law, and everyone needs to comply equally.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:12 pm    Post subject: There may have to be exemptions or exceptions. Reply with quote

miracle wrote:
When I first started this thread it was because all the requests for size-based exemptions were (and are) weakening the cause. It draws criticism because it asks to escape accountability. Furthermore, pointing the finger at big companies and imports is not only alienating from the people who have the loudest voices to fight with (and the money to do it) but it also ignores the reality that unsate products come from crafters too.

From the go had the handmade/craft industry started off looking for reasonable compliance it would have been a battle supported by the rest of industry. Since that didn't happen now (my belief is) the handcraft industry will get the short end of the stick because people didn't build alliances.

I believe in solidarity.

As such I think the very habit of asking for an out is going to keep it from happening. Not only is the rest if industry not supporting it, but consumers are responding as though this is a request to put kids at risk to provide a business with profit. They don't care the companies are small. They care about their kids.

That is my opinion on the matter and it's not negative at all, just pointing out unintended consequences.

Please excuse the typos I'm using a phone!


Someone on the internet brought up the point that farmers markets are an exception to highly-regulated food laws. I can think of other examples where exceptions are made to laws. I don't know why I'm thinking food so much, but think of all the bake sales and fund raiser meals done outside commercial kitchens and often without permits. In my neck of the woods, they even allow truckers to ignore road weight bans, when necessary, to get farm crops to market before they spoil. All this is just something interesting to mull about in the brain.
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
*I have to be truthful and admit I don't think this law actually makes things safer; the amount of lead in chidlren's products is nothing compared to what's in, say, the dirt in playgrounds. And unless they start searching containers at ports more, the cheap lead trinkets will still be all over the dollar stores and bodegas. But, the law is the law, and everyone needs to comply equally.


Well part of the benefit of this law is the penalties and damages change the scope of legal payouts in the case of actual harm.

Whenever there is a federal law backing something, the harmed party can (usually) collect greater damages and legal fees (because baseline monetary issues have been established rather than being a matter of court proceedings or settlements).

Having been in the position of suing a big corporate entity, you are so much better off when they have violated a law or a consumer protection regulation. While I don't think the intended consequence was THIS, I do believe that lawmakers wanted safer products, but they also wanted to (financially) nail the people bringing in garbage.


Quote:
it would be good to recognize the worth of everyone involved in this situation - including individuals who are not mass-producing.


OOAK would have gladly had the red carpet rolled out had it not been the case that the most vocal crafters constantly bash other entities in search of special treatment. Now, once that stage has been set, then it's kinda hard to get other people back on your side.

I don't think that any of those who posted here in that regard ever considered the members they were offending with their posts. It's a two way street. There are members here who import, many produce under fair trade, certified situations in countries where they have a positive impact on the local socio-economic conditions. I think the insults are alienating people. No, that's not the right word. The insults are shining the wrong kind of light on the handmade industry.

Let me say this again: large companies have the money to be present at hearings, to pay experts to perform studies and have the ability to exert legislative pressure upon politicians. These are the people who will have the ear of the people who can change law.

The other kinds of entities that will be able to create change are united coalitions of smaller producers.

None of these people are asking for exemptions.

The handmade exemption argument falls on deaf ears, and the bashing creates divisiveness. You can't ask people to recognize your worth after trying to throw them under the bus to save your own skin.

I will tell you exactly how the handmade industry can get momentum-- "we need effective, sensible and affordable compliance options."

That's it-- that's all. All the finger-pointing at large companies and importers just... isn't effective.

Also, asking for size-based exemptions ruins any credibility. This is why organized groups of manufacturers didn't do it. They didn't want to lose the opportunity to be heard, to be influential, by asking for an out.

Now one last thing. All the vocal people who are making themselves known, yet are producing products of questionable safety (whether by construction or components), are bringing the wrong kind of attention to themselves.

It will entirely backfire when all the talk about exemptions because of size and knowingly producing safe product turns out that a lot of these products do, in fact, violate the CSPC laws. This is why the asking for the exemption was a bad idea.

Effective, sensible and affordable compliance.


Quote:
I do disagree that parents' have no responsibility to keep certain items from children that they do use with their children when they are not in use.


I think you will find that no slack will be given on baby and toddler products. Because we don't know if there are latent effects of some of these items on the growth and development of babies and toddlers. I mean, we can study what has happened, but we don't know what could be the effects of what *could* happen.

You are going to find that bigger manufacturers will become in total compliance and will use that as a sales advantage. As a parent, when picking a carrier, most will go for 100% tested for safety vs that which is tested only on the parts that the child is exposed to and must bear the warning label "do not leave child unattended with carrier."

So both sides have to be weighed. Not only the legal requirements, but the market impact.
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Someone on the internet brought up the point that farmers markets are an exception to highly-regulated food laws. I can think of other examples where exceptions are made to laws. I don't know why I'm thinking food so much, but think of all the bake sales and fund raiser meals done outside commercial kitchens and often without permits.


This varies by state, because CA is not like that. Food handling laws still apply to farmer's market vendors. As a result most famer's market vendors actually operate restaurants or commercial food producing entities and use the farmer's market as a grassroots marketing effort.

And if a school has a bake sale using home made goods, and is caught, HUGE trouble, fines and all. Usually public schools know better. And I have yet to have a private school do that. I think *I* was in high school when that stopped.
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