Using Technology to Enhance Your Consumer Product Safety Compliance Program

Since 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has required companies that have entered into settlement agreements for failure to report under Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to develop internal compliance programs. Through these settlement agreements, it is obvious that the CPSC considers the implementation and maintenance of a compliance program to be the cornerstone of how a company ensures compliance with product safety rules and regulations enforced by the CPSC.

The difficulty is not in the development and implementation of an effective Product Safety Compliance Program, but in developing a mechanism to review, evaluate and update the compliance program.

So how do you know if your program is up-to-date and if you are using the best process and technology available today? In the early days of CPSIA, many companies built internal systems and controls to track testing and to generate certificates. Many of these systems are 4-6 years old now and were not built to send paperless certificates, as put forth in the rule on “Certificates of Compliance”, 16 CFR Part 1110 (the 1110 rule). At many companies, a review of their compliance program has not been done since 2013 when the CFR 1107 rules when into effect. Failure to regularly review and update all relevant information, which might impact the compliance of your childrens’ product, negates the effectiveness of a Consumer Product Safety Compliance Program.

Perform an Audit

To begin the review of your current product safety program, an audit must be conducted to assess your product safety readiness, including your current systems, operations and technology platforms. During the review, charting the incoming data to technology, processes and the people involved, should be conducted. Knowing where all of the compliance related data for the company is stored, and how it can be accessed, is important when information is needed quickly. In the event of an incident, the decision to report under Section 15(b) to the CPSC needs to be made quickly, so knowing where to find your data is essential.

Map Your Incoming Data to People, Process and Tools

The next step is to chart your processes so that incoming product data will be available to effectively support your Product Safety Compliance Program. This data should be collected from the design stage through final product delivery to consumers. Is there a proactive approach to compliance so that you can quickly react to incidents reported by consumers who are using your products, once you are made aware of them? You may have data residing on in-house developed systems, 3rd party applications, vendor sites or web applications like Dropbox or SharePoint. Your goal should be to maintain and enforce a system of internal controls and procedures to ensure that your company can promptly, completely, and accurately report the required product information to the CPSC if necessary.

  Incoming flow

Sources to Discover Safety Related Incidents

There are many sources to discover safety related incidents. Do you have process and technology tools in place to capture these? How are these issues escalated and what platforms do you use to review, research and document issues brought to your attention? Many companies today use online help desk platforms to log customer service inquiries and most of the top programs today have an API connection so that you can bring in items from Facebook and Twitter. Application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software components should interact and APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. So when looking for new technology platforms, look for ones that have the ability to use an API to connect to other applications or to bring or send data to your systems or compliance program.

Escalation Policy

Your internal company communications policy should be set up to enable management to quickly be informed of any safety related incidents or quality issues.This policy should start with the appointment of a company compliance manager and notification/training to your staff on your escalation policy. Do you have your systems set up to capture safety related incidents and route them to the compliance manager/director? A lot of programs today utilize a smart rules feature so you can escalate a category type such as safety and quality so that these items can be routed directly to your compliance manager the minute they are created. It is important to note that with or without a technology solution, you must train your customer service staff  to recognize safety related issues and direct them on proper incident handling protocols and company polices so they are prepared to escalate to management when discovered.

Identify Your Training Platform

During the  review of your compliance program you should identify and document the communication platform that you will use to train your staff, contractors, stakeholders and board members on your company’s compliance policies. Will it be all-hands meetings, video conferencing or 3rd party apps, and how will you capture proof of attendance? You should embed this training for new hires if they work in an area related to purchasing, testing or customer service, and a confidential reporting process should be part of this training so you foster a proactive approach to safety.

Record-keeping

Many companies which have been in business for some time find that their data is spread out over legacy systems, shared drives, company servers or staff computers. In your audit you should identify where all of this data is stored and how it is backed up. Cloud based applications and storage solutions are much more cost effective today and offer increased security over dedicated IP-based servers. You should have a data migration plan for migrating or storing data when systems are upgraded and know where to find archived data. If you have an IT department, make sure your document retention policy is inline with CPSC requirements, which is 5 years, and integrate your company email retention policy with your compliance program. Educate your employees on proper storage of files and documents.

 

Think outside the box

When developing your compliance program there is no one-size-fits-all approach. After completing an audit of your current program you can then identify possible technology solutions to adopt or to fill the gaps in your current systems. Keep in mind that your compliance program should  encompass your company’s product testing and certification program so that compliance with all applicable federal and state children’s product safety rules and regulations is ensured. The days of using Excel spreadsheets solely for the documentation and implementation of your compliance program are quickly ending, but there are many great solutions available out there today, you just need to find the one that best works for you.

For more information on a conducting compliance program audit or help with creating your CPSC Compliance program please contact us by visiting the Jacoby Solutions website.

Small Batch Manufacturers – Time to Register for 2016

Small Batch RegistryIf you are a registered small batch manufacturer with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for calendar year 2015 and you wish to continue in this status, you must register again for calendar year 2016Registration must be submitted annually. 

 

If you have not previously registered your small business with CPSC, but now wish to do so, please follow the instructions below but note that you will first have to create a user ID and password before you will be able to follow all of the steps below.

Registration is now open for calendar year 2016. 

If you wish to register as a small batch manufacturer for calendar year 2016, your registration must be based upon the total number of the same product units sold (7,500 units) and the total gross revenues ($1,086,627 or less) from the sales of all consumer products in the previous calendar year – January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.  If you meet those two requirements (the total gross revenues figure has been updated for inflation this year), you may now register for calendar year 2016 by logging into your user account in the Business Portal at: www.SaferProducts.gov.

 

Step 1:  Login:  When you log in to your account at: www.SaferProducts.gov and you click the “Small Batch Manufacturer” tab with your cursor, you will be asked to attest that your company satisfies the criteria you first used to register; the criteria are nearly the same as last year and only the gross total revenue figure has been updated to account for inflation.

 

If you do not see the “Small Batch Manufacturer” tab on your screen when you login, you may be using the wrong email login.  Remember that you may have used multiple emails when you created your account.  You should use the Business Account User ID login, which is often a general address, such as info@company.com, and not your personal or other email address, such as neal@company.com.  If you login correctly, you will be able to see all the tabs, including ‘Small Batch Manufacturer.’  If you need further assistance logging in, contact Clearinghouse@cpsc.gov.

 

Step 2:  Registration:  Once you are certain that you can attest to the truth and accuracy of the statements for your sales and your revenues in calendar year 2016, you may check the boxes and submit your registration.  Within the next day or so, you will receive a confirmation e-mail message with your new, unique Small Batch Manufacturer Registration Number for 2016.  *Please save that e-mail message for your reference.* 

 

Please note that when you log in to your account after your registration for calendar year 2016 is accepted, your Business Portal account will display your unique Small Batch Manufacturer Registration Number for both calendar year 2015 and calendar year 2016.  Please use the appropriate number (from 2015 or 2016, based on the date of your product’s manufacture or final assembly) in drafting your Children’s Product Certificate.

 

Total Gross Revenues:  Note that the total gross revenues for your company from the prior calendar year (e.g., calendar year 2015 sales to qualify for calendar year 2016) from the sale of all consumer products must be $1,086,627 or less

 

(If your company’s revenues are currently $900,000 or more, we recommend that you defer registering with the CPSC until the final 2015 figures are released – the figure above will not be finalized until early 2016.  The size of the final inflation adjustment is still unknown.  If you register before the release and your revenues exceed the maximum allowed amount as adjusted in 2015, you must notify the CPSC to cancel your registration.) 

 

Registration is ongoing, and you may register at any time during the next calendar year – through December 2016.

 

Assistance:  If you have any questions or require assistance with the registration process, please e-mail: clearinghouse@cpsc.gov.

 

If you have any questions about how registration as a small batch manufacturer with the CPSC affects your obligations to test and certify your products as compliant with applicable consumer product safety rules or compliance with other CPSC rules, regulations, standards, or bans, please review the program information at: www.cpsc.gov/smallbatch.  If you need further assistance, please e-mail Neal Cohen at: ncohen@cpsc.gov.

 

 

Recent CPSC Consent Decrees require use of “Independent Product Safety Coordinators”

Two California  toy importers  have agreed to use Independent Product Safety Coordinators to create compliance programs to settle allegations of violating CPSC requirements, the Justice Department noted in a October 6 press release. They are decreed from selling and importing toys or other children’s products until these programs have been set up.

The companies are Unik Toyz Trading and Brightstar Group, both of Los Angeles. The complaints and settlements also name company officers: Julie Tran and Kiet Tran (Unik) and Sherry Chen (Brightstar)

Both decrees mandate the creation of compliance programs requiring the following:

  •  Use of Independent “Product Safety Coordinators” (no financial or personal ties) who would help set up a comprehensive product safety compliance program and audit products to determine which require testing and certification to CPSC rule. 
  • Engage  an CPSC accredited third party lab for product testing 
  • Periodic product testing plan according to 16 CFR 1107.
  • Conformity certificates retained and available to provide at CPSC’s request. The companies must have processes to verify that all underlying requirements are satisfied.
  • Warning labels on all products requiring them.
  • Tracking labels  on all products that require them.
  • Correction procedures to fix problems, conduct recalls, and respond to CPSC letters of advice.
  •  Incident reporting procedures to investigate incident reports, meet CPSC reporting requirements, and correct “systemic issues” found by the investigations.

Under both decrees, the companies must certify to the Compliance Office that they have met all provisions, accept CPSC facility inspections to ensure such compliance, and submit to at least two years of CPSC monitoring.

 

The CPSC sent 21 letters of advice to Unik from November 2011 to January 2015. The allegations involved lead content, phthalates, small parts, accessible batteries, art material labeling, third-party certification, and tracking labels

 

The Brightstar allegations involved lead content, warning labels on marbles, strollers’ folding mechanisms, third-party certification, and tracking labels. The CPSC sent nine letters of advice to Brightstar from September 2013 to April 2015.

 

Over the last several years, the creation of a compliance program has become a mandatory element of every settlement with the CPSC. 

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The CPSC expects companies to have a robust compliance plan in place. Do you have all of the required elements in place?  Let Jacoby Solutions be your Independent Product Safety Coordinator and call us to schedule a CORE audit to see how your People, Process and Technology stack up..

Marc Schoem to lead ICPHSO

The International Consumer Product Health & Safety Organization (ICPHSO)  announced that Marc Schoem, currently with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), will be taking the reins as Executive Director of ICPHSO on October 15, 2015. The position has been unfilled since the founding Executive Director Ross Koeser retired in February of this year. Schoem will retire from CPSC in early October.

Founded in 1993, ICPHSO (pronounced IC – FAH – SO) is the only organization which attracts a global membership of consumer product health and safety professionals, all of whom come together to exchange ideas, share information, and address health and safety concerns affecting all consumers. ICPHSO members represent U.S. and global government agencies, manufacturers, importers, retailers, trade associations, certification/testing laboratories, law firms, academia, standards development organizations, media, and consumer advocacy groups.

Al Kaufman, current ICPHSO president, stated, “I know I speak for the entire ICPHSO board of directors when I say that we are very excited to have Marc on board. Having someone of Marc’s caliber, with the vast experience he brings to this role, serving as Executive Director will enable ICPHSO to grow and prosper, furthering our mission of providing a neutral forum where product safety practitioners from many organizations can come together to advance the art and science of protecting consumers.”

Schoem brings 40+ years of experience at CPSC to IPCHSO, working directly with many of the members and stakeholders in the product safety arena. His current position is Deputy Director, Office of Compliance and Field Operations, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Since joining the Commission in 1974, Mr. Schoem has served in a number of positions in its Bureau of Information and Education, Office of Education, Global Outreach and Small Business Ombudsman and the Office of Compliance and Field Operations.

“I am looking forward to this unique opportunity to lead ICPHSO,” stated Schoem. “ICPHSO is an organization that exists to bring together consumers, members of industry, global government regulators and other key players in the consumer product safety field to discuss and exchange ideas to improve consumer product safety throughout the world. This is a natural extension of the role I have played at CPSC for the last 40 years. My hope is to build ICPHSO into an even stronger and more vibrant organization that can help stakeholders address emerging safety issues and further the dialogue between all parties involved with consumer product safety in a non-partisan and inclusive approach.”

Schoem will make his first appearance as executive director of ICPHSO at the organization’s International Symposium in Billund, Denmark on October 20-21, 2015.

 

JPMA Moderates Panel at ICPHSO

Jacoby Solutions at ICPHSO

 

At the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) Conference held on Feb. 23-26 in Orlando, JPMA moderated the panel: How Data Sharing Can Lead to More Effective Policy. The panel explored not only the importance of how sharing of data can improve federal rulemaking and regulatory policy, but also improve and refine corporate policy.

The session was moderated by JPMA Managing Director of Government and Public Affairs, Julie Vallese, and the panel participants were Joan Lawrence from the Toy Industry Association, Jennifer Schechter from Consumer Reports, Bill Jacoby of Jacoby Solutions and George Borlase from the CPSC. Drawing lessons from industry experts and regulatory agencies currently working in collaboration with regards to data sharing, this panel addressed ways to effectively share data and discuss how the interpretation of data can affect public policy, corporate policy and protections, and the public perception of issues.

 

Small Batch Manufacturers – Register for 2015

Small Batch Registry

If you are  currently a registered small batch manufacturer with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for calendar year 2014 and you wish to continue in this status, you must register again for calendar year 2015

Registration must be submitted annually. 

If you have not previously registered your small business with CPSC, but now wish to do so, please follow the instructions below but note that you will first have to create a user ID and password before you will be able to follow all of the steps below.

Registration is now open for calendar year 2015. 

If you wish to register as a small batch manufacturer for calendar year 2015, your registration must be based upon the total number of the same product units sold (7,500 units) and the total gross revenues ($1,068,336 or less) from the sales of all consumer products in the previous calendar year – January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.  If you meet those two requirements (the total gross revenues figure has been updated for inflation this year), you may now register for calendar year 2015 by logging into your user account in the Business Portal at: www.SaferProducts.gov.

Step 1:  Login:  When you log in to your account at: www.SaferProducts.gov and you click the “Small Batch Manufacturer” tab with your cursor, you will be asked to attest that your company satisfies the criteria you first used to register; the criteria are nearly the same as last year and only the gross total revenue figure has been updated to account for inflation.

If you do not see the “Small Batch Manufacturer” tab on your screen when you login, you may be using the wrong email login.  Remember that you may have used multiple emails when you created your account.  You should use the Business Account User ID login, which is often a general address, such as info@company.com, and not your personal or other email address, such as neal@company.com.  If you login correctly, you will be able to see all the tabs, including ‘Small Batch Manufacturer.’  If you need further assistance logging in, contact Clearinghouse@cpsc.gov.

Step 2:  Registration:  Once you are certain that you can attest to the truth and accuracy of the statements for your sales and your revenues in calendar year 2015, you may check the boxes and submit your registration.  Within the next day or so, you will receive a confirmation e-mail message with your new, unique Small Batch Manufacturer Registration Number for 2015.  *Please save that e-mail message for your reference.* 

Please note that when you log in to your account after your registration for calendar year 2015 is accepted, your Business Portal account will display your unique Small Batch Manufacturer Registration Number for both calendar year 2014 and calendar year 2015.  Please use the appropriate number (from 2014 or 2015, based on the date of your product’s manufacture or final assembly) in drafting your Children’s Product Certificate.

Total Gross Revenues:  Note that the total gross revenues for your company from the prior calendar year (e.g., calendar year 2014 sales to qualify for calendar year 2015) from the sale of all consumer products must be $1,068,336 or less

(If your company’s revenues are currently $900,000 or more, we recommend that you defer registering with the CPSC until the final 2014 figures are released – the figure above will not be finalized until early 2015.  The size of the final inflation adjustment is still unknown.  If you register before the release and your revenues exceed the maximum allowed amount as adjusted in 2014, you must notify the CPSC to cancel your registration.) 

Registration is ongoing, and you may register at any time during the next calendar year – through December 2015.

Assistance:  If you have any questions or require assistance with the registration process, please e-mail: clearinghouse@cpsc.gov.

 

If you have any questions about how registration as a small batch manufacturer with the CPSC affects your obligations to test and certify your products as compliant with applicable consumer product safety rules or compliance with other CPSC rules, regulations, standards, or bans, please review the program information at: www.cpsc.gov/smallbatch.  If you need further assistance, please e-mail Neal Cohen, CPSC Small Business Ombudsman at: ncohen@cpsc.gov.

 

CPSC Proposes Three Areas for Reducing Third-Party Testing

During the Senate confirmation hearing for incoming CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye and Commissioner Joe Mohorovic, Senator John Thune (R-SD) asked each candidate what the CPSC could do to reduce the burden of Third-Party testing for manufacturers and importers of children’s products. In response to the Senator Thune questioning, both Chairman Kaye and Commissioner Mohorovic submitted a joint letter outlining three areas of focus for the Commission to reduce the burden of testing.

  1. Expanding the CPSC’s “determinations” for lead to include the other seven (7) heavy metals that are required for testing under ASTM F963-11. A CPSC determination exempts certain materials from testing based on either scientific data or consistent third-party test results which demonstrate that the heavy element(s) do not naturally occur in the material. Currently for lead materials such as wood, CMYK inks, natural and synthetic fibers are exempt from lead testing. These materials and perhaps others would be expanded to include the other seven (7) heavy metals.
  2. Research and compare other international standards such as ISO 8124 or EN-71 to current US Standards such as ASTM F963-11 for “equivalency” in testing methods and safety standards. If found to be equivalent, then manufacturers or importers who have previously tested their products to these standards would not need to test their products to the equivalent U.S. Standards.
  3. Producing guidance for the allowance of “de minimis” third-party testing exemptions where the area requiring testing on the product has a mass weight of less than 10 mg would require testing. While these very small areas on the product would still need to comply with any applicable chemical content limits, the CPSC would not require testing to demonstrate compliance.

While the Chairman and Commissioner did not give a timeline for beginning the process of implementing the points outlined in the letter, it is expected to be a “hot button” for Senator Thune who is expected to become the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in the next Congress which oversees the CPSC.

Green Chemistry Initiatives by State

Green Chemistry initiatives by State, beginning with California in 2008, have quickly grown to several states with either proposed or enacted “Green Chemistry” bills to regulate hazardous substances in consumer products. California through the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) and their Department of Toxic Substances Control, published the first list of priority products. These priority products were placed on the list based on two criteria; the potential to expose people or the environment to one or more Candidate Chemicals, and the potential to “contribute to or cause significant or widespread adverse impacts”.

Several bills currently pending in states,  seek to regulate the use of chemicals. Of these, Vermont SB 239 is the most controversial and wide-reaching. The bill’s original scope was so broad that it would have allowed the Department of Health to regulate all products. As amended, the bill only relates to children’s products and would require companies to report to the Department of Health if their products contain any of the 66 chemicals on a “watch list”.

Massachusetts also recently introduced MA HB 3997, which would ban the sale of products containing priority chemicals designated by the Administrative Council on Toxic’s Use Reduction. Many states have attempted to ban the use of flame retardant chemicals in children’s products including; Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland and Washington. Washington, through the enactment of the Children’s Safe Products Act (CSPA) also requires manufacturers to report toxic chemicals in their products which are sold to children. The requirement to report is based on a list of 66 chemicals currently on the Chemicals of High Concern to Children (CHCCs) along with the amount of the chemical present in the product and the function of the chemical in the product.

Since it is unlikely that the debate over the safety of chemicals used in consumer products [especially children’s products] will end, the topic of chemicals in consumer products will remain a popular issue in state legislatures for the foreseeable future.

CPSC Workshop April 3 – Potential Ways To Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Through Material Determinations Consistent with Assuring Compliance

Potential Ways to Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Through Material Determinations Consistent with Assuring Compliance:           cpsc logo

CPSC Workshop – April 3, 2014 

Tomorrow, beginning at 9 am, CPSC staff will hold a workshop on potential ways to reduce third party testing costs, to be held at CPSC’s National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Maryland. You may find out more information and attend by registering here or you may watch the webcast at www.cpsc.gov/live (Note: Viewers will not be able to interact with the panels and presenters.)  Written comments may also be submitted by April 17, 2014. The goal of the workshop is to provide CPSC staff with information and evidence concerning possible Commission determinations that certain materials will comply with applicable safety standards with a high degree of assurance and without requiring third party testing.  Staff would like to emphasize that the workshop will focus on technical questions and information as detailed in the FR notice.

 

 

Maine proposes four chemicals for priority designation

Maine proposes four chemicals for priority designation. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Maine Priority Chemicalshas proposed four rules that would designate cadmiumformaldehydemercury and arsenic as priority chemicals. Manufacturers, importers or distributors of certain children’s products which are in the stream of commerce in Maine will have to report the use of these four chemicals in their products if they are above a certain “minimum amount”.

The proposed rule states that, “No later than 180 days after the effective date of this chapter, the manufacturer [this would include an importer as well] of any of the following: bedding, childcare articles, clothing, cosmetics, craft supplies, footwear, games, jewelry and embellishments, safety seat, occasion supplies, personal accessories, personal care products, school supplies, or toys which are intended for use by a child under the age of 12 years, that contain intentionally-add [chemicals] shall report to the department the following information:

  1. The name and address of the manufacturer [including importers]
  2. The name, address and phone number of a contact person for the manufacturer [including importers]
  3. Description of the product or products containing [the chemical], including the overall size of the product and/or component of the product that contains [the chemical] and whether the product or chemical-containing component of the product, can be placed in the mouth (typically if the item is smaller than 5 cm in one dimension, it is regarded as mouthable)
  4. The number of items sold or distributed in Maine or nationally
  5. The amount of [the chemical] in the product reported
  6. The function of [the chemical] in the product reported
  7. Any other information the manufacturer deems relevant to the reporting of the chemical, such as relevant independent scientific study on exposure specific to the amount of chemical present in the finished product reported or product of similar functionality.

A public comment period on the proposed rules expired on January 31, 2014. The proposed rules would implement Maine’s Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products law, which aims to protect the health, safety and welfare of children by reducing their exposure to chemicals of high concern by providing substitutes when feasible. Maine has already listed bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenol/nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NP/NPE) as priority chemicals.

Unsure how this might impact your product or future product development? Contact us today to see how we can help. info@jacobysolutions.com or 866-873-7335 ext. 101