Saturday, July 2, 2011

HTA Letter to CPSC on Upcoming ASTM Toy Safety Testing Requirements

July 3, 2011

Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Room 502
4330 East-West Highway,
Bethesda, Maryland, 20814

RE: Commencement of ASTM F-963 Toy Safety Testing Requirements and Petition for a Stay of Enforcement

Dear Honorable Commissioners:

We are alarmed to learn that the Commission is proceeding this month with rulemaking to begin certifying third party labs to test for the ASTM F-963 Toy Safety Standard. Unless the Commission's course is altered, the result of this process will be the initiation of third party testing requirements for all toys made after mid-October of this year as mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

To begin requiring third party testing to the ASTM F-963 standard will dramatically and permanently harm small batch toymakers. We are therefore petitioning the Commission to delay the publication of lab certification standards for ASTM F-963 or to stay indefinitely the enforcement of the ASTM F-963 third party testing requirement for small batch manufacturers.

We request this action for four reasons.

First, our members simply cannot afford to pay for third party testing of toys they produce in small batches. ASTM F-963 testing fees range from $500 to $3,500 or more per toy. A manufacturer making only a few thousand units of a toy per year simply cannot afford to absorb this fixed cost, which is borne easily by larger corporations.

Second, the timing of the CPSC's proposed actions is markedly unfair to small batch manufacturers. Many, if not all, small batch toymakers continue to make their toys for the holiday season right up until the third week of December. Large-scale manufacturers, however, almost always complete their holiday production runs by early summer. Imposing third party testing requirements in mid-October will therefore have a much more negative impact on small batch toymakers.

Third, the language of the ASTM F-963 standard itself is extremely difficult for a typical small batch toymaker to comprehend. It is intended solely for the use of product safety engineers. The result of this complexity is that our members are much more at the mercy of third party labs and must rely entirely on these labs to determine which standards apply to a given product. Labs can therefore require and bill for redundant or unnecessary tests under the standard that they could not impose on larger companies which employ a dedicated compliance staff. We have urged the Commission to author a simplified guide to the ASTM F-963 standards for small businesses, but to no avail. Without such a document, small batch manufacturers cannot negotiate fairly or openly with the third party labs they would be required to employ.

Fourth, as the Commission is well aware, Congress is actively considering substantive changes to the CPSIA which would significantly reduce the compliance costs for small batch manufacturers. Leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties have expressed their intentions to modify the CPSIA in order to reduce its unintended consequences for small batch toymakers. While this legislation is pending and progressing it makes little sense to unnecessarily imperil thousands of small businesses.

For these reasons, we urge the Commission to delay the third party testing requirement for the ASTM F-963 standard or stay its enforcement for toys made in batches of fewer than 10,000 units per year.

On behalf of our 653 member small businesses, we appreciate your willingness to consider our concerns. We hope 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

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