Dear Honorable Commissioners:
As the Commission prepares its report to Congress regarding its suggestions for improvements needed to the CPSIA, we would like reiterate our concerns with the CPSIA and how it affects our 403 member businesses who specialize in small batch children's products.
We appreciate the opportunities the Commission has granted us to share our concerns about the CPSIA. As we wrote in our letter dated October 25, 2009, our fundamental belief is that the CPSIA focuses resources on processes rather than safety and needlessly hampers the Commission's ability to make product safety determinations based on risk. Although the Commission has been able to address some of our concerns, including the need for exempting natural materials and allowing component testing, many other common-sense reforms require Congressional action.
The following is a list of legislative changes to the CPSIA that our member businesses need in order to survive:
Grant the CPSC authority to use risk analysis to allow enforcement flexibility of third party testing requirements and hazardous content limits. High risk items like paint or metal jewelry should be held to higher verification standards than low-risk products like bicycle valve stems and brass zippers on children's garments.
The definition of what is a children’s product should be changed to items intended for children 6 years or younger, except where the CPSC identifies a product requiring a higher age limit based on risk analysis.
Educational products intended for use in classroom or homeschool environment under the direct supervision of an adult should be exempted from the definition of a children's product.
Harmonize CPSIA standards with the European Union's EN-71 standards to remove the regulatory trade barrier which the CPSIA created between the US and the EU. This would include changing the lead content standard from an untenable total lead standard to an absorbable lead standard.
Exempt manufacturers who make less than 10,000 units per year from all third party testing requirements and allow them to comply instead with the 'reasonable testing program' requirements which apply to manufacturers of non-children's products under the CPSA. This would protect small batch manufacturers and specialty product manufacturers, including companies that make adaptive products for children with disabilities. These manufacturers would not be exempted from the standards themselves, only from the third party verification requirements.
Tracking labels should be voluntary except for durable nursery items and products which are most likely to be passed down to younger siblings or resold where the CPSC's risk analysis determines that tacking labels would be most likely to prevent harm. Manufacturers who choose to implement tracking labels would benefit from a lesser burden in the event of a recall.
Revisit the retroactivity of the CPSIA based on a risk-based approach with the goal of preserving the market for second-hand children's products.
Inaccessible components, metals, minerals, hard plastics, natural fibers and wood should be exempted from phthalate testing.
Re-calibrate CPSIA penalties based on the scale and potential harm of any violation to protect small business owners' access to financing and insurance.
Allow the use of XRF technology to verify lead content in substrates.
Establish rules and procedures protecting manufacturers from false claims in the public incident database.
Require and fund an ombudsperson within the CPSC to help communicate with small businesses. Such an ombudsperson would serve to expedite answers to questions and give input to CPSC staff about policy decisions.
Require the CPSC to implement an education strategy for consumers. Media attention in the wake of mass market toy recalls has improperly skewed the public's understanding the primary sources of lead poisoning, which remain lead in house paint, dirt near highly-travelled roads, and workplace exposure. Lead awareness campaigns from the 1970s and 80s have now been forgotten by today's parents even though the same problems persist. The CPSC should take steps to re-educate the public about the highest-risk sources of lead exposure.
We strongly believe that all these changes, if implemented, would protect small businesses, maintain a vibrant selection of children's products in the marketplace, reduce compliance costs, create a more effective CPSC, and promote common sense without sacrificing safety.
On behalf of our 403 member small businesses, we appreciate your willingness to consider our concerns. We are hoping to preserve the long American tradition of hand-crafted children's goods while ensuring safety for the children who enjoy them.
The Handmade Toy Alliance
A listing of all 403 business members of the Handmade Toy Alliance is available at http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org/members-of-the-handmade-toy-alliance